Two ways of looking at a book: “Had I been still more articulate, I might have said that there’s a special readerly pleasure in approaching a book as you would a box. In its self-containment lies its ferocious magic; you can see everything it holds, and yet its meagre, often hackneyed contents have a way of engineering fresh, refined, resourceful patterns. And Emily might have replied that she comes to a book as to a keyhole: you observe some of the characters’ movements, you hear a little of their dialogue, but then they step outside your limited purview. They have a reality that outreaches the borders of the page.”
It’s 2014, but we still don’t have self-driving cars despite Isaac Asimov’s predictions. In 1964, Asimov contemplated what the world would be like 50 years later. He was fairly accurate according to David Wogan at Scientific American. “Asimov got a lot right…about how technology keeps advancing at a rapid clip, freeing humans from mundane and routine tasks. It’s the Google-fication of everything.”
“Video games are worth loving, but loving them comes with shame. Not passing regret or social embarrassment, but a sharp-edged physical guilt: the hunch-backed, raw-fingered, burning-eyed pain that comes at the sad and greasy end of an all-night binge. You have ostentatiously, really viciously wasted your life; you might as well have been masturbating for the last nine hours—your hands, at least, would feel better.” Gabriel Winslow-Yost reviews the best “homemade” video games for n+1.
Year in Reading alumnus Alexandre Chee writes about the courage of being queer. As he puts it, “I am sure the 49 patrons who died at Pulse that night didn’t necessarily think of themselves as brave for being there. But they were.” Pair with Claire Cameron’s Millions interview with the author.
Out this week: All the Rage by A.L. Kennedy; The Confabulist by Stephen Galloway; Fallout by Sadie Jones; The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson; With My Dog Eyes by Hilda Hilst; Ruby by Cynthia Bond; and The Informed Air by Muriel Spark. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great 2014 Book Preview.
Nell Zink, whose second novel comes out next week, has one of the lit world’s more unusual origin stories. An expat in Germany, she wrote her first novel in three weeks, after striking up a friendship over email with Jonathan Franzen. In the latest New Yorker, Kathryn Schulz details her story in full. You could also read Emily Gould’s recommendation of her work for Year in Reading.