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.
Heidi Julavits credits her habit of keeping a diary with convincing her that writing might be a viable career path. In her new book, The Folded Clock, she returns to the format of her childhood, crafting a lengthy diary meant to stand on its own as a narrative. In the Times, Eula Biss reads the book and reflects on our notions of the self. Related: Rachel Signer on the Julavits/Sheila Heti/Leanne Shapton project Women in Clothes.
Expats of all stripes have trouble defining the word “home,” which is true even when the expat is someone like James Wood, who left England for America in the ‘90s and set up a life for himself in Massachusetts. In the LRB, he describes the odd pain of emigration, lamenting that his “English reality” has faded into memory. (You could also read Charles Finch on trying to live up to Wood’s standards.)