A big week for books: Zadie Smith’s NW is out (read the first lines), as is Christopher Hitchens’s Mortality, a collection of essays penned while he fought cancer (our essay on Hitchens’ death) (his collection Arguably is out in paperback today). More new books: Emma Straub’s Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures, Umberto Eco’s essay collection Inventing the Enemy, Davy Rothbart’s essay collection My Heart Is an Idiot, Frederick Seidel’s poetry collection Nice Weather, documentarian Errol Morris’s A Wilderness of Error: The Trials of Jeffrey MacDonald, and the Navy Seal book about the bin Laden mission. Also, The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides is now out in paperback (read Eugenides on the book’s genesis), as is Stephen Greenblatt’s Pulitzer winner The Swerve.
Over at Bloom today, a lively Q&A with Charles McNair, whose Pickett's Charge was the subject of Kevin Hartnett's recent review here. In particular, McNair takes us through the harrowing blow by blow of his road to publication, the "sophomore jinx story" from a Pulitzer Prize-nominated author.
Nathaniel Rich, who seems to have endured his 47-hour train trip without descending into madness, describes one of his favorite historical attractions in New Orleans: the Pharmacy Museum. “There are few things in life more terrifying than antiquated medical devices,” he writes.
"Every story that works gets the level of description that it needs. Which isn’t to say that the level of description needed for every successful story is the same." Tobias Carroll surveys the wide variety of detail density in fiction for Electric Literature.
New this week: Academy Street by Mary Costello; The Children’s Crusade by Ann Packer; After the Tall Timber by Renata Adler; Recipes for a Beautiful Life by Rebecca Barry; A Slant of Light by Jeffrey Lent; The Water Museum by Luis Alberto Urrea; All Involved by Ryan Gattis; Odysseus Abroad by Amit Chaudhuri; The Language of Paradise by Barbara Klein Moss; and Ashes in My Mouth, Sand in My Shoes and I Refuse, two books by Per Petterson. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great 2015 Book Preview.