The Takeaway hosted two ambitious author panels at last month’s Miami Book Fair International. The first panel covered “love,” and featured Millions contributor Christopher Beha alongside Jami Attenberg and three others. The second panel focused on “death,” and it featured writers and literary figures as well as Benjamin Busch, an Iraq War veteran.
Out this week: The Wall by H.G. Adler; How to Be Both by Ali Smith; Screenplay by MacDonald Harris; Woman with a Gun by Phillip Margolin; Essays after Eighty by Donald Hall; Selected Letters by Norman Mailer; and Skylight by the late Nobel laureate José Saramago. For more on these and other recent titles, check out our Great Second-half 2014 Book Preview.
Fans of Moby-Dick should read Nathaniel Philbrick's outstanding historical account In the Heart of the Sea. The book, which tracks the fate of The Essex, a New England whaling vessel sunk by a humongous sperm whale in the South Pacific, is vivid and harrowing. It's also, as it turns out, only one of the naval catastrophes to befall George Pollard, Jr., The Essex's captain: a second wreck of his was recently located off the coast of Hawaii.
Wallace Shawn has written a new play, and it's unsettling to watch. In it, a group of wealthy, middle-aged party hosts reveal their roles in a dystopian future, where political murders, random beatings and censorship are all commonplace. In an essay for The New York Review of Books, Francine Prose reviews the play in the context of Shawn's other works.
Remember when Esquire released their not-so-great list of eighty books every man should read? Well, they have amended their list to eighty books every person should read, asking advice from “eight female literary powerhouses” including Roxane Gay, Michiko Kakutani and Lauren Groff. Our own Janet Potter recommends twenty-eight books you should read if you want to.
"Reading Literary Twitter is to witness brief, terse glimpses into the writerly psyche, and how insecure and unsure and thin-skinned we tend to be. As writers, we want to be validated. We want to matter. The published stories and poems and essays, the books we sell, the magazines we edit: all this output, this paper expelled out to the world, the screens we invade with our narratives, it all matters to us. But does it matter to everyone else?" mensah demary writes about the good, the bad, and the slightly neurotic of being a writer on Twitter for Electric Literature.
A new Pew Research Center survey finds that the share of Americans who have read a book in the last 12 months – 73% – has remained largely unchanged since 2012. And when people do reach for a book, it is much more likely to be a traditional print book than a digital product. See also our essay on the persistence of physical books and, of course, The Late American Novel: Writers on the Future of Books, edited by our own C. Max Magee.