Former Brat Packer Molly Ringwald makes her literary debut with When It Happens to You: A Novel in Stories this week. Also out this week, Where’d You Go, Bernadette by comedy writer turned novelist Maria Semple, The St. Zita Society by Edgar Award-winner Ruth Rendell, and, in non-fiction, Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep by David K. Randall.
Out this week: Gratitude by Oliver Sacks; And Yet by Christopher Hitchens; The Lost Garden by Ang Li; and a new edition of Drum Taps: The Complete Civil War Poems by Walt Whitman. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-Half 2015 Book Preview.
London is the most popular literary city. Graphic designer Edgard Barbosa made an infographic that visualizes the number of English-language books written about 10 international cities from 1800 to 2000. The locales include Rome, New York City, London, Paris, Tokyo, Madrid, Beijing, Chicago, Cairo, and Mumbai.
Emily Smith discusses the place of zines in contemporary American politics, over at Ploughshares. As she puts it, “Zines, like street art, are allowed critical power through anonymity—a function newsstand periodicals simply can’t perform for the sake of reputation or the sacrifice of advertisers. In this way, zines are small-scale democracies.”
Michael Seidlinger writes on how consciousness occurs online. As he puts it, “We have all become Sisyphus, pushing our rocks up a hill littered with hyperlinks and tweets, perpetually, futilely, refreshing the page of existence.” Pair with this Millions piece on the best of literary Twitter.
Considering the sheer volume of references in the cultural air, you probably believe you have a pretty good grasp of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. To this I say, hold up there, Straw Man Reader — Ye Olde Romance That Could has more to it than you think.
“The most, the best, we can do, we believe (wanting to give evidence of love), is to get out of the way, leave space around whomever or whatever it is.” This excerpt from John Cage’s journals, forthcoming as Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse), is as baffling as it is beautiful.