Interested in seeing unsettling characters — preferably with moustaches — looking for meaning in wacky postmodernist settings? Well, o ye of of bizarre inclinations, you’re in luck: Thomas Pynchon is rumored to be working with Paul Thomas Anderson. (He’s also coming out with a new book.)
In an illuminating interview for Slate, James Wood revises his opinion on David Foster Wallace and discusses how aging can change critics. As he puts it, “At exactly the moment that I wanted really to write, and started writing poems and then trying to write bad fiction, I was reading with a view to learning stuff. I was reading poetry. How did Auden do his stanza forms? And I was trying to copy those. What’s a successful poem, what’s an unsuccessful poem? […] What’s a good sentence? I don’t think I’ve changed. I am as sincerely interested in novels that fail as I am in novels that succeed. I just want to work them out. It’s a pleasure for me actually.” Top it off with Jonathan Russell Clark’s essay on Wood’s The Nearest Thing to Life.
New this week: The Dying Grass by William T. Vollmann; Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal; Gonzo Girl by Cheryl Della Pietra; How to Be a Grown-Up by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus; Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans; and The Night Stages by Jane Urquhart. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great Second-Half 2015 Book Preview.
The Economist gives a succinct explanation of “why books come out in hardback before paperback,” but their answer feels almost too simple. For a fuller understanding of the paperback / hardback question, pair The Economist‘s article with Nichole Bernier‘s Millions piece on “The Point of the Paperback.”
“Nigeria did fracture once, however, and it is this story that Chinua Achebe, a giant of African letters, tells. His memoir of the moment describes when the country, yoked together artificially by British colonizers, split apart at a cost of more than a million lives.” The New York Times Book Review on the writer’s There Was A Country.