There are plenty of new books to this week to fill that post-election void: Both Flesh and Not: Essays, a posthumously published collection from David Foster Wallace; Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behavior; Prosperous Friends by Christine Schutt; Magnificence by Lydia Millet; and These Things Happen, a debut by longtime TV writer Richard Kramer. From the indies, we have The Care and Feeding of Exotic Pets by Diana Wagman and Keyhole Factory by William Gillespie. Also out are Philip Pullman’s new version of Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm; Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks; and a big new Michael Jackson biography by a former Rolling Stone editor.
The success of international authors like Orhan Pamuk, Ma Jian, Haruki Murakami, and Tash Aw – each capable of “transcend[ing] their homelands and emerg[ing] into a planetary system where there work can acquire a universal relevance” – has caught the attention of n+1’s editors. In a lengthy piece from their last issue, they suggest that we should be less concerned with such examples of “World” or “Global Literature,” and instead focused on more diverse, politically-charged and unique international works. “Global Lit tends to accept as given the tastes of an international middlebrow audience; internationalism, by contrast, seeks to create the taste by which it is to be enjoyed,” they argue.
“I have a theory: the thing that makes you a unique writer hasn’t got so much to do with your influences as it does with how you became a writer in the first place. I think your preferences—your obsessions—come just as much from the first sorts of things you consumed and were passionate about. Whether that’s pop music, comics, “lowbrow” fiction, soap operas, or anything else, the thing that matters most is what started you writing stories.” Amber Sparks writes about “lowbrow” influences and the many paths to becoming a storyteller in an essay for Electric Literature.
When Arthur Conan Doyle wasn’t writing Sherlock Holmes, he was a practicing doctor. Thomas Goetz’s new book The Remedy discusses the history of tuberculosis and Doyle’s role in finding a cure with Robert Koch. The Daily Beast interviewed Goetz about how he came up with the idea for the book. “These two characters were part of a much larger story about how scientific discoveries evolve into social change.”
City of Quartz author Mike Davis is writing a biography of the Los Angeles Times‘ bygone publisher Harrison Gray Otis. Appropriately, the installments will be serialized by the Los Angeles Review of Books.