Teddy Roosevelt could read an entire book before breakfast. Kim Peek (Rain Man) could read two pages of text simultaneously. Perhaps by using some combination of both techniques, you’ve managed to make your way through our entire Great 2013 Book Preview. Or perhaps you’re just looking for some poetry and science fiction recommendations. Well, either way Mark Sanderson and China Miéville have you covered, respectively.
“If only we could talk! Like the evening before last, I had actually just stayed the night at the house where I’d been drinking, purely and simply because they didn’t want me to drive back drunk. But I couldn’t tell you that, because telling you would have suggested that you minded; and that’s the kind of minding we never talk of. We only either kid each other about it, or get angry.” The love letters of Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy (one of the first openly gay relationships in Hollywood) are delicate and beautiful.
New this week: Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders; Shadowbahn by Steve Erickson; The Fortunate Ones by Ellen Umansky; All That’s Left to Tell by Daniel Lowe; The Weight of Him by Ethel Rohan; The Dark Flood Rises by Margaret Drabble; and Be My Wolff by Emma Richler. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
Perhaps inspired by the news, first reported a few years ago, that mad scientists in the Indian army plan to weaponize superhot chilis, Lauren Collins ventures bravely into the world of extreme heat. As a warning to readers who fancy themselves tough, she quotes a doctor who makes clear that these peppers aren’t just hot — they’re lethal.
In a New York Times op-ed piece on violence in children’s literature, Maria Tatar claims that “the savagery we offer children today is more unforgiving than it once was.” Is that really the case? Adam Gidwitz‘s A Tale Dark And Grimm (reviewed by the Times last November), which underscores the violence inherent in Grimm’s tales, can be read as a counterpoint.
The New York Public Library announced their eighteenth annual Young Lions Fiction Award, which is “given annually to an American writer age 35 or younger for either a novel or a collection of short stories.” The 2018 finalists are: Lesley Nneka Arimah‘s What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky, Venita Blackburn‘s Black Jesus and Other Superheroes, Gabe Habash‘s Stephen Florida, Emily Ruskovich‘s Idaho, and Jenny Zhang‘s Sour Heart. From our archives: Habash and Zhang‘s 2017 Year in Reading entries.
George Bernard Shaw had a strange relationship with Nietzsche. Alternately envious and dismissive of the German philosopher, Shaw once said he wanted to be an intellectual in Nietzsche’s mold, though he also felt Nietzsche’s thinking was addled and self-absorbed. In an essay for The New Statesman, Michael Holroyd tries to make sense of Shaw’s views.
If you’re tired of only getting catalogs and bills in your mailbox, ask your friends to mail their tweets. For a month, Giles Turnbull corresponded with 15 of his Twitter followers by mail. “Tweeting by post made me appreciate the online and the offline. Brevity is a good thing, but there’s no reason we should only be brief on Twitter,” Turnbull writes for The Morning News. Pair with: Our roundup of literary Twitter’s first tweets.
A very thoughtful essay by Millions contributor Patrick at his home base, the Vromans bookstore blog. The nut of the piece is the idea that publishers can and should create stronger brand identities. Patrick points out some publishers that are already doing this, and there’s some great stuff in the comments as well. The piece is a reaction to an equally interesting essay from if:book.