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.
One thing that pretty much everyone can agree on is that Go Set a Watchman is a controversial book. Our own Michael Bourne said it “fails as a work of art in every way except as a corrective to the standard sentimental reading of Atticus Finch.” At Slate, Dan Kois, Meghan O’Rourke and Katy Waldman debate the main questions the novel raised.
Luddites rejoice! If you still use a manual typewriter, you already know that they’re superior to laptops for writing. Now comes proof that they’re also better at making art than text-based computer art programs like ASCII and its “colored cousin,” ANSI. The video’s narrator tells us, in German, that many of the subjects autographed their typewriter-generated portraits, and the Pope sent a thank you note — and cash!
Even though James McBride (new National Book Award winner for The Good Lord Bird) is an accomplished jazz musician, he doesn’t listen to any music while writing. “Because I’m a musician, listening to music is…it’s a bit like work for me,” he told The Daily Beast for the “How I Write” series.