Another bumper crop of books this week is led by J.K Rowling’s post-Potter effort, The Casual Vacancy is on shelves, as are May We Be Forgiven by A.M. Homes, Canvas by Benjamin Stein, Panorama City by Antoine Wilson, Sutton by J.R. Moehringer, Tarun J. Tejpal’s debut The Story of my Assassins. On the non-fiction side, Nate Silver’s long-awaited The Signal and the Noise is here, as is Neil Young’s memoir Waging Heavy Peace. New in paperback: John Warner’s Funny Man (the edition includes an essay by Warner that ran on The Millions) and Emma Donoghue’s blockbuster The Room.
"Like reading, love works in roughly the same way every time, but the details of any given case are irreducibly particular, and it's in the details that everything happens." Lidija Haas on Elif Batuman's debut novel, The Idiot. (You could also read our review by Virginia Marshall.)
Out this week: Lost for Words by Edward St. Aubyn; Another Great Day at Sea by Year in Reading alum Geoff Dyer; Funny Once by Antonya Nelson; Black Lake by Johanna Lane; Closed Doors by Lisa O’Donnell; Decompression by the German writer Juli Zeh; and J.R.R. Tolkien's translation of Beowulf, published now for the first time. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great 2014 Book Preview.
“During various periods of my life I have succumbed to the siren call of sleeping pills. It is hard to resist their promise: one tablet, and your night will be purged. Your brain may be in overdrive, its receptors working away, hungrily awaiting more images and information, but like a computer it is forced into another mode. Yet the little white disks with a dent down the middle are no panacea; whenever I take one of these thought guillotines I feel trapped in a grey zone, seesawing between mid and shallow slumber, mind and body dulled but not of their own accord.” A lifelong insomniac recounts her long struggle with the illness.
Our own Emily St. John Mandel is in conversation with Laura van den Berg over at the FSG blog. “We have such a mania for classification, don’t we? Everything just seems so black-or-white, one-or-zero, genre-or-literary sometimes, and I don’t think those divisions are especially helpful.” The authors are Year in Reading alumni, and you can check out Mandel’s and van den Berg’s posts at the respective links.
Graywolf Press – the publisher behind Citizen, The Empathy Exams, The Argonauts, and On Immunity: An Inoculation – has built a reputation as “a scrappy little press that harnessed and to some extent generated a revolution in nonfiction, turning the previously unprepossessing genre of the ‘lyric essay’ into a major cultural force.” Over at Vulture, Boris Kachka writes about the history of one of the nation’s leading independent literary publishers.
It’s not Christmas, but it’s close. It’s time for the Literary Review’s annual Bad Sex Award Shortlist to be released. This year’s finalists include My Education author Susan Choi and famous folk singer Woody Guthrie among others, and the winner(?) will be announced on December 3rd. (Bonus: Their Twitter account is sharing particularly awful excerpts as well.)