The Olympics Opening Ceremony this year sure was… something. Thankfully, folks more eloquent than I are here to parse its craziness for us: Jenny Diski and Rafil Kroll-Zaidi on what it was, plus Alex Shephard and the Full Stop bunch on what it should have been.
The gorgeous paperback edition of our own Garth Risk Hallberg’s A Field Guide to the North American Family is now out. Also new and noteworthy are Francisco Goldman’s New Yorker excerpted story of the death of his young wife Say Her Name, Meg Wolitzer’s The Uncoupling, Ann Packer’s Swim Back to Me, Blake Butler’s There is No Year, and Phillip Connors’s intriguing debut, Fire Season: Field Notes from a Wilderness Lookout. Elsewhere, we’ve got Tina Fey’s raved about memoir Bossypants and a new and long in the works biography of Malcolm X, whose author, Manning Marable died just last week on the eve of the book’s publication. Finally, now out in paperback is the fiction blockbuster The Help.
“This is how he justified what he did even as he knew what kind of parent he’d become, the kind that used to make him gag as recently as two months ago. The ones who blithely assumed their online friends were gluttons for punishment. Here’s my baby lying on his back! And here’s my baby also lying on his back! And how about this one: blurry baby on his back! Good God, the vanity of it all, the epic self-centeredness. He knew all this, and still he uploaded eleven pictures of Brian.” An excerpt of Victor LaValle’s new novel The Changeling. (You could also read our interview with the author from last year.)
What would happen if you had a clock to countdown the exact number of days until you died? Our own Mark O’Connell discovers the paranoia of having the Days of Life app measure his mortality at The New Yorker. “Days of Life functions like a reductio ad absurdum of the logic of personal productivity. The pie chart becomes a special way of being afraid: an image of the self as a micro-economy of numbered days.” For a more uplifting version of O’Connell, check out his 2013 Year in Reading post.