Over at Threepenny Review, Jess Row expounds on “blandness” in the work of Haruki Murakami, and particularly in his 2.8 lb. tome 1Q84—a book tabbed by Charles Baxter in last year’s Year in Reading as the best he’d read all year. Row contemplates the way Murakami’s characters and sentences “almost never lose this placid, observant neutrality,” or “continuous monotone.”
“Language starts to shut down the strength and power and strangeness of what it means to be a person in the world.” At The Rumpus, Ben Marcus discusses how he uses language in his writing and his new short story collection, Leaving the Sea (featured in our 2014 book preview.) Pair with: Our own Adam Boretz’s interview with Marcus and our review of The Flame Alphabet.
“The city has the beckoning power of a black hole or the Italian countryside or a castle. There is no way to explain our wiring to someone whose fairytale has always ended somewhere like Florida.” Aisha Sabatini Sloan on calling Detroit home, over at The Offing. Also check out Bill Morris’s Millions piece on movies set in the city.
Book publishers will tell you how many titles they are publishing this fall. Apple at least reveals how many iPads it sells. But Amazon is taking a different tack, shrouding much of the plans for its publishing venture in secrecy.
Bill Clinton, at 65, has become the Blurber-in-Chief, an activist health convert who has enthusiastically endorsed three diet books: Eddie Shapes Up by Ed Koch, Think and Grow Thin by weight-loss coach Charles D’Angelo, and The Blood Sugar Solution: The UltraHealthy Program for Losing Weight, Preventing Disease, and Feeling Great Now, a new book by Dr. Mark Hyman. No more “Fat Elvis” jokes for Bill.
Michael Cunningham, who alongside Maureen Corrigan and Susan Larson sat on the jury of the Pulitzer Prize for for fiction, gives the clearest account yet of how the award process works and defends the three shortlisted titles. His letter is in two parts, he also addresses the function of judgment and begins to build a poetics of literary greatness.
We’ve seen a lot of interesting literary fundraisers (and are still a bit in awe of Catstarter) but a recent campaign goes beyond the usual Kickstarter: a group of well-known American writers, from Heather McHugh to Philip Levine to Rebecca Makkai, will be selling manuscript critiques later this month to benefit Caregifted.org.