“There’s no doubt that Life A User’s Manual takes an approach to depicting reality that is very different from the standard realist novel, which we have been conditioned to believe is the best and most-preferred way of representing our world…Though not without its enlightening aspects, this conversation has generally fallen into a simplistic dichotomy, where realist writing is described as giving us the real world of everyday life, and anything other than realist writing is seen as directing its energies toward a vague something that no one cares to define very well.” A look at Oulipo and its legacy from Lauren Elkin and Scott Esposito, who recently wrote an Oulipo-themed Year in Reading for us.
In a piece for the New Yorker, Adam Gopnik writes about a new life of C. K. Scott Moncrieff, the first translator of Proust into English, and about the strange success and beauty his imperfect translation of Remembrance of Things Past achieved. The essay as a whole pairs well with both our own Bill Morris‘s essay against literary biography and Barclay Bram Shoemaker‘s Millions review of Mo Yan‘s Frog and “the trouble with translation.”
A Brief History of Seven Killings author Marlon James was struck by the whiteness of The Hobbit, and in an interview for Entertainment Weekly, he explains it inspired him to write his own fantasy series based on African epic traditions. “It’s sort of like my being a scholar of African history and mythology, and my being a total sci-fi/fantasy geek who rereads things like The Mists of Avalon, they just sort of came together,” James said. He’s targeting a Fall 2018 release for the first book.
The Guardian reports that Kinokuniya, a Japanese book chain, has bought 90 percent of the print run of Haruki Murakami’s latest essay collection, Novelist As a Vocation, to be released September 10th in Japan. The company hopes to bring more customers back into bookstores. Need more Murakami? Read our review of The Strange Library.
What if a treasure hunt in a book crossed over into the real world? Author Kit Williams buried a prize and left clues to its location in his novel, Masquerade. The search drove England crazy. Our own Hannah Gersen maps the imaginary in her essay about how authors organize their manuscripts.
Wow, NPR, this is kind of amazing: “A non-stop mix of every song ever played during the 10 years of All Songs Considered.”
What if the Tour de France nearly ground to a halt due to fiction? Imagine the best bikers in the world reading themselves into injury. At The Morning News, our own Matt Seidel imagines the chaos, making clear what happens when professional athletes meet page-turners. You could also read Matt’s essay on Tim Krabbé’s book The Rider.