“It just goes to show you: it’s not just luck you need to have a successful literary career. It’s luck, piled on luck, piled on luck again, and around the corner, you need another sprinkling of it” says Michelle Dean, after investigating Stephen King’s rise in response partly to Dwight Allen’s “Snob Notes” on the author. Colin Dickey and Sarah Langan have both previously weighed on on Allen’s essay and King’s particular strengths.
Both Ed and the Washington Post interview Tobias Wolff on the occasion of the release of his new collection, Our Story Begins.Bookride chronicles some of the most unlikely and amazing discoveries in the history of book collecting. In part one, he discusses many runners-up - including "An incredible collection of modern first editions, mostly fine in jackets turned up in the 1980s in a shed in the Australian desert causing dealers to fly in from New York, Berkeley and Santa Barbara." Part two covers the greatest find. It begins "In 1907, during his second expedition to Chinese Central Asia, Sir Aurel Stein, a Hungarian-born British archaeologist, encountered a monk who showed him a hoard of manuscripts preserved in a cave near Dunhuang."In BOMB, Zachary Lazar and Christopher Sorrentino discuss Lazar's book Sway. Lazar appeared in our Year in Reading.You may have to wait ten years for the rest of it, but Junot Diaz gives readers a sneak peak at his next novel at Omnivoracious.Baseball predictions, highly personalized.J.K. Rowling, now retired from writing about a boy wizard, has embarked on the next step of her career, protecting her legacy. First up is a lawsuit against a companion book written by a superfan librarian. But, as the Times seems to indicate with its account of the trial, that way madness lies: "The librarian, Steven Jan Vander Ark, had the mild-mannered demeanor of Ron Weasley, and the intelligence, charm - and haircut - of Harry Potter. Even his name sounds like that of a character in one of the books, if preceded by "Lord" or "Master." Although, at 50, he is older than Ms. Rowling, 42, he looked like a schoolboy, with an unlined face and caramel-colored hair parted down the middle."
Even though the new Franzen doesn't drop for another week, for many readers, today is the biggest book release day of the summer thanks to the publication of Mockingjay, the third installment of Suzanne Collins' blockbuster Hunger Games trilogy. For those less inclined toward young adult fare, Kevin Guilfoile's new novel The Thousand is now out, as is The Cross of Redemption, the "uncollected writings" of James Baldwin.
Alright, time to fess up – who keeps buying all these Mein Kampfs? This piece from The Daily Beast takes a look at Hitler's 800-page tome and questions why people continue to buy it despite the fact that "it might be dull as one of those many lunchtime monologues that bored Frau Goebbels cross-eyed."
Perhaps inspired by the similarly-named astronomer, Freeman Dyson wrote an entry for the NYT’s By the Book series, in which he praises Edward Wilson, Kristin Ghodsee, Robert Kanigel and Octavia Butler, the last of whom he dubs his favorite novelist of all time. Sample quote: “The Magic City can be read on two levels, as a children’s adventure story and as a critique of modern society. Karl Marx was a friend of [Edith] Nesbit’s family.”
New this week: Tupelo Hassman's debut Girlchild, a pair of novels -- Angel and A Game of Hide and Seek -- by Elizabeth Taylor (not the actress) from NYRB Classics featuring introductions by Hilary Mantel and Caleb Crain, Self-Portrait of an Other, prose poems by Cees Nooteboom, and Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys, a new poetry collection from D.A. Powell.