American readers can now get their hands on the latest from Martin Amis, Lionel Asbo: State of England. Also out this week: The Devil in Silver by Victor LaValle, Paul Auster’s memoir Winter Journal, Dan Fesperman’s spy novel The Double Game, and a pair of debuts, Hanna Pylväinen’s We Sinners and Amanda Coplin’s The Orchardist.
In the beginning, God died, and it was bad. Then the pun died too, and despair came over the people.
When did Samuel Beckett's "fail better" become the motto of Silicon Valley? At Slate, our own Mark O'Connell traces the history of the phrase. "Fail Better, with its TEDishly counterintuitive feel, is the literary takeaway par excellence; it’s usefully suggestive, too, of the corporate propaganda of productivity, with its appeals to 'think different' or 'work smarter' or 'just do it.'"
Boston has announced the country's first "Literary Culture District," marked by memorials to Edgar Allen Poe and Sylvia Plath. It also includes some arguably less interesting sites - the buildings that used to house The Atlantic Monthly and Little, Brown and Company, for example. Caroline O'Donovan writes critically about the new district for The Baffler and concludes that "we’ve allowed glib cultural ideals to occlude economic realities, and tourism tax dollars to triumph over a candid conversation about the origins of art and the sustainability of its production."