Among this week’s new books we have The Twelve by Justin Cronin (our review), The Fifty Year Sword by Mark Z. Danielewski (our interview), The Miracle Cures of Dr. Aira by César Aira (our review), and Zoo Time by past Booker Prize-winner Howard Jacobson. In non-fiction, Mark Bowden has penned an account of the killing of bin Laden.
Doors of Perception author Aldous Huxley requested a dose of LSD as he succumbed to laryngeal cancer in 1963. Three weeks later, Huxley’s widow, Laura Archera, wrote a letter describing the experience (“the most beautiful death”) to her brother-in-law. Today the prescription of psychedelic drugs to terminally ill patients is less uncommon than you might expect.
"The way Vermeer painted this wall is consistent with a photograph. It is not consistent with human vision." In a fascinating new documentary by Penn and Teller, a digital-graphics artist spent five years building a lens, a room, and a harpsichord to figure out how.
"Embrasser" means to hug and kiss in French, but the new literary journal of the same name is about embracing unique varieties of international French. Embrasser is a Louisiana-based literary translation journal that aims "to highlight and preserve varieties of French that have been marginalized," founder Emily Thibodeaux said. The journal is accepting fiction poetry, nonfiction, and criticism submissions in English or Louisiana French for its first issue coming out during Mardi Gras 2014.
What do you do when McSweeney’s rejects your humor piece? You could, like most people, slink off and write something new, perhaps after a quick look at the site to get a better sense of what they’re looking for, or you could write a new humor piece about getting rejected by McSweeney’s. At The Nervous Breakdown, Rachel Pollan takes the latter route (with a cameo by the movie Swingers).
Slate books and culture columnist Laura Miller looks at what this year's bestseller list tells us about 2017. One of her conclusions, "2017 was the year that the very concept of a best-seller became even more dubious." After reading her analysis, check out our Year in Reading lists, whose authors found joy in reading and viewed it as one of the few good things of this year, even if the bestsellers of the year didn't reflect those feelings.