“It’s a major work of scholarship and interpretation, but also one that some readers may foolishly reject as unimportant on account of its theme, the ultimate ‘minor’ topic in the eyes of the heterosexual masses.” In the LRB, Terry Castle reviews Lisa Cohen’s new biography.
Ursula K. Le Guin has died at the age of 88, according to the New York Times and Le Guin’s family. The prolific science fiction and fantasy writer — best known for her Earthsea series and The Left Hand of Darkness — explored themes like politics, gender, religion, and environmentalism. However, Le Guin wrote across genre and published over 20 novels, 100 short stories, 7 essay collections, 13 children’s books, 5 volumes of translation, and a writer’s guide. No stranger to awards, Le Guin most recently won the 2017 Hugo Award for Best Related Work for Words Are My Matter: Writings About Life and Books, 2000-2016. From our archives: The Millions interview with Le Guin from 2013.
Students at Brooklyn’s International High School come from more than forty-five countries and speak more than twenty-eight languages. Their stories are now recorded in Brooke Hauser’s new book, The New Kids: Big Dreams and Brave Journeys at a High School for Immigrant Teens.
If you’re the kind of person who might fall asleep while reading a page-turner, you’re not alone. For Read It Forward, Jonathan Russell Clark writes about the challenge of literary sleepiness. For more of his writing, check out his essay on the art of the final sentence for The Millions.
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.
“[L]overs of more experimental books showed the ability to see things from different perspectives but it was comedy fans who scored the highest for relating to others.” A new study suggests that people who read books are nicer, reports The Independent. In our recent interview with author John Vaillant he wholly agreed. “Empathy is what gives you the access,” he told us. “I see the writer (fiction or nonfiction) as a kind of permeable membrane through which the thoughts, feelings, and experiences of others can pass and manifest.”
Looking for a new literary podcast to fill your downtime? David Naimon’s “Between the Covers” author interview series may do the trick. The series, which appears regularly on Portland, Oregon’s KBOO 90.7 FM, is available for free on iTunes. Past guests have included Karen Russell, George Saunders, China Miéville and Junot Díaz. Forthcoming episodes will feature the likes of NoViolet Bulawayo and Jami Attenberg.
“Reading the Grateful Dead is not a history of the band; it is a study of the landscape they and their fans created, as surveyed from a caravan that crisscrossed the country, Europe, and even Egypt for roughly 2,300 shows over 30 years.” Dead Head Buzz Poole takes a look at “Grateful Dead studies.” (The song that turned him, it turns out, was ‘Scarlet Begonias.’)