“I had dreams about tornadoes. I dreamed of houses collapsing, people searching through rubble for dead bodies. Most of these dreams involved watching a large tornado in a field as it moved directly toward me. Like the scene early in the film The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy looks out the window and sees the tornado approaching, that sense of doom is always present in my dreams.” At the Paris Review Daily, Brandon Hobson reflects on a lifelong fear of bad weather.
Booker-snubbed, but still widely anticipated, Philip Hensher’s King of Badgers is out today. As are Ali Smith’s There But for The, Erin Morgenstern’s uber-hyped debut The Night Circus, and The Taste of Salt by Martha Southgate, who wrote here about writers’ work getting better as they get older.
“What is missing from Testimony is the customary idealistic hero, the one last encountered in Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass who doesn’t avert his eyes from suffering and sordidness, but who nevertheless is full of hope for a better future. Testimony is a corrective, an anti-epic.” Charles Simić recounts Charles Reznikoff’s long poem Testimony: The United States (1885-1915): Recitative in the NYRB.
Another big week for books is headlined by Michael Chabon’s Telegraph Avenue (the book’s opening lines) and Junot Díaz’s This Is How You Lose Her. Also out are Susan Straight’s Between Heaven and Here, touted debuts The People of Forever Are Not Afraid by Shani Boianjiu and The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers, How Music Works by Talking Heads frontman David Byrne, and Bob Woodward’s latest Beltway tick-tock The Price of Politics.
PW points out yet another publishing industry totem being torn down by the rise of e-books, the first printing number, once a signifier of how “big” publishers and the media expected a book to be: “In an era when first printings are down because e-books can account for as much as 50% of sales on frontlist titles, the term ‘first printing’ sounds more and more out of place.”