If we are, as Adam Kirsch writes, in the midst of a golden age of essays, we might want to ask exactly which essays are proof of this golden age. His first three picks — My Heart is an Idiot, I Was Told There’d Be Cake and Pulphead — are unsurprising choices, but then it gets a bit more interesting when he looks at Sheila Heti’s latest novel. (You could also check out a few of our pieces on these books.)
“I can still remember with complete clarity the way I felt when whatever it was came fluttering down into my hands that day 30 years ago on the grass behind the outfield fence at Jingu Stadium; and I recall just as clearly the warmth of the wounded pigeon I picked up in those same hands that spring afternoon a year later, near Sendagaya Elementary School. I always call up those sensations whenever I think about what it means to write a novel.” Haruki Murakami on “The Moment [He] Became a Novelist,” excerpted on Lit Hub from the new double edition of his first novels, Wind/Pinball.
Amazon has given its entire front page over to a “letter” from CEO Jeff Bezos touting Dan Brown’s forthcoming gnostic thriller The Lost Symbol. It’s a mix of hyperbole and “thrilling” intrigue. My favorite excerpts: “This is one of the most anticipated publishing events of all time.” “The book remains so deeply under wraps that we’ve agreed to keep our stockpile under 24-hour guard in its own chain-link enclosure, with two locks requiring two separate people for entry.” Bezos goes on to promise that Amazon will deliver Kindle owners the book “wirelessly while [they] sleep.”
One downside to being an internationally acclaimed author is that people care an awful lot about digging into your past. Haruki Murakami has found this out the hard way, as a librarian from Kobe High School (which Murakami attended during his younger years) has made public a list of books checked out by then-budding author. For more “Murakami meets library,” here’s a review of his own The Strange Library.
When a novel is printed in multiple countries, it often has more than one editor. Slate interviews Emma Donoghue; her American editor, Judy Clain; and her Canadian editor, Iris Tupholme, about how they all edited Frog Music. They discuss everything from how to deal with editing disputes to the best way to get edits. “I much prefer to get everyone’s opinions separately, because if I got a single editorial letter, it would be like getting a note from God!” Donoghue says. For more on the editing process, read about our own Edan Lepucki’s relationships with her copy editor and editor.
In true Seinfeldian fashion, Arthur Martine, the Victorian writer behind Martine’s Handbook of Etiquette, drew up a detailed taxonomy of the various species of bore. These include the Loud Talker, who “silences a whole party by his sole power of lungs;” the Malaprop, who masters the art of inappropriate conversation; and the Life-Sharer, who may be familiar to the Facebook addicts of today.