On this date 109 years ago, a cartoonist first paired the letter “Z” to the act of sleeping, beating out other attempts to write out the sound of slumber such as the tenacious “g-r-r-k-k-k-k” and the elegant “z-z-z-c-r-r-k-k-k-k.”
We recently offered a look at the odd history of the book blurb here at The Millions. Now the New York Times is looking at this peculiar custom, inviting four contributors to discuss their merits and pitfalls. Among them is our own Bill Morris, who revisits his 2011 essay "To Blurb Or Not To Blurb" about the dilemma he faced when asked to blurb a friend's book.
Soon HBO will have another show based on an acclaimed book in its lineup. Olive Kitteridge, a show based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Elizabeth Strout, will premiere on November 2nd. You can see the trailer (along with a brief analysis) over at Slate. FYI, Strout wrote a Year in Reading entry for us.
"This is the odd space these Theory Generation novels inhabit, making them peculiar novels of ideas. Their writers have read enough Theory at a young enough age to be in continued thrall to its power; they do justice to the disorienting shock those texts once had, and perhaps still have. Yet they are old enough to ironize (tenderly or bitterly) that power." Are you a member of the theory generation?
"In addition to fearing, as a young person, that I lacked sophistication, I also feared that I lacked courage. It was hard for me to say something even mildly tough about someone else or their work; hard for me, generally, to be critical. Mary McCarthy had no such trouble." Meg Wolitzer, author of The Interestings, writes about her literary idol for the LA Times.
“Better to close your eyes and carry on with your own work, pretending the master carpenter doesn’t exist.” Karl Ove Knausgaard reads Michel Houellebecq’s novel Submission – one of the most anticipated books of 2015. Pair with this Millions essay on Knausgaard’s My Struggle.
New this week: A Cure for Suicide by Jesse Ball; Lovers on All Saints’ Day by Juan Gabriel Vásquez; The Kindness by Polly Samson; a new book of correspondence between Allen Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti; and Apollo in the Grass by the Russian poet Aleksandr Kushner. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great Second-Half 2015 Book Preview.