John Steinbeck’s son criticizes the state of Texas for invoking Of Mice and Men‘s Lennie Small, in ruling that certain mentally retarded individuals can be sentenced to the death penalty. The great-great-great granddaughter of Herman Melville wonders where her great-great-great-grandfather’s editor was when he wrote Moby Dick.
Book Three of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle is out this week, as is a new novel by Millions contributor Emma Straub. Also out: The Lobster Kings by Alexi Zentner; The Untold by Courtney Collins; Above the East China Sea by Sarah Bird; Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson; and a new volume of the Collected Works of Gerard Manley Hopkins. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great 2014 Book Preview.
Three days after Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the Times wrote about Katharine Weymouth taking over the Washington Post, Jeff Farhi reports that Amazon’s Jeff Bezos has agreed to purchase the newspaper. Will Bezos follow up his purchase of English™ with a brand-new WaPo style guide?
On a more optimistic note, New Directions, New York City’s inestimable and long struggling (but “long dazzling!”) publishing house, will be throwing itself a 75th birthday party on Thursday, October 27. (They just redesigned their website and colophon, too.)
Much fuss was made about Barack Obama’s ex-girlfriends this week, as an excerpt from David Maraniss’ forthcoming Barack Obama: The Story was published in Vanity Fair. Of course, we sophisticated book readers care less about the man’s old flames than we do his literary pursuits, right? That’s why Mr. President’s analysis of T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Wasteland” is so interesting.
“Most of all, they don’t tell you that fear, to reverse a phrase from C. S. Lewis, will feel so like grief, and so you begin to mourn what you have not yet lost, because mourning prematurely is the only way to protect yourself from hope.” For Catapult, Laura Turner writes about her trio of miscarriages and the hope she lost (and found) along the way. (Turner is a 2017 Year in Reading alum).