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.
“Is this skyscraper autobiographical?” People say some pretty ridiculous things about writing. To put it in perspective, Mallory Ortberg presents "If We Talked About Architecture Like We Talk About Writing."
Lydia Millet's most recent novel, Magnificence, is the third in a trilogy, and a reminder of what a significant body of work she's been building over the last decade. The Point offers the best overview of that work you're likely to find anywhere. Millet's "equal parts" Ben Marcus and Jonathan Franzen, writes Tom Dibblee, "but really she's her own thing."
If you enjoy showing the world how much you like to read, you’re in luck: The Paris Review and the LRB are asking people to submit photos of themselves reading either magazine as part of their new contest. All you have to do is post the image on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #ReadEverywhere, and they’ll pick out the top images. The grand prize is one vintage issue of The Paris Review from every decade it’s been around, along with an artwork by Peter Campbell and a vintage LRB cover print.
"[C]hildren often prefer the factual over the fantastical. And a growing body of work suggests that when it comes to storybooks, they also learn better from stories that are realistic. For example, preschool-aged children are more likely to learn new facts about animals when the animals are portrayed realistically as opposed to anthropomorphically." Two new studies suggest that where learning is concerned, realism trumps fantasy in children's books. Which is as good a time as any to ask our own Jacob Lambert's question: Are picture books leading our children astray?
A tipster has pointed us to a mention of what seems to be a new Dave Eggers novel on the back cover of a catalog from a Dutch publisher. the title translates loosely to A Hologram for the King. A description from a Dutch bookselling site (again translated poorly by Google Translate) suggest that the book will follow an American in Saudi Arabia where he tries to sell holographic technology to King Abdullah. We've seen no other mentions of this book anywhere, and so far McSweeney's hasn't responded to our questions. Anyone out there know more?
I hope you had your Wheaties this morning, because this one is a doozy. Scientists at Poland’s Institute of Nuclear Physics have discovered complex "fractal" sentence patterning in classic works of literature that is nearly identical to "ideal" mathematics. Maybe Finnegans Wake does make sense, after all.