“Mario purchased pickup trucks from which he removed panels and lights. The trick was packing the drugs in a part of the vehicle where the body wouldn’t lose its hollow sound when slapped." These two sentences just got author Dan Slater's new book Wolf Boys banned from Texas prisons, inadvertently calling attention to Banned Books Week. Pair with two of our essays about controversial reads.
I'd heard that the New Yorker excerpt was the opening of Jonathan Franzen's new novel Freedom, but it turns out it is preceded in the novel by this: "The news about Walter Berglund wasn't picked up locally--he and Patty had moved away to Washington two years earlier and meant nothing to St. Paul now--but the urban gentry of Ramsey Hill were not so loyal to their city as not to read the New York Times. According to a long and very unflattering story in the Times, Walter had made quite a mess of his professional life out there in Washington. His old neighbors had some difficulty reconciling the quotes about him in the Times ('arrogant,' 'high-handed,' 'ethically compromised') with the generous, smiling, red-faced 3M employee they remembered pedaling his commuter bicycle up Summit Avenue in February snow; it seemed strange that Walter, who was greener than Greenpeace and whose own roots were rural, should be in trouble now for conniving with the coal industry and mistreating country people. Then again, there had always been something not quite right about the Berglunds."
To commemorate publication of the 65th anniversary edition of Raymond Queneau’s Exercises in Style, New Directions has asked ten contemporary writers to “create new exercises in homage to Queneau.” Over at The Rumpus, you can check out Jonathan Lethem’s “Cyberpunk” exercise, as well as one of Queneau’s twenty eight “never before translated” exercises making its English debut in the new edition. Bonus: read our own Mark O’Connell on the “radical claims about the relationship between form and content” in Queneau’s writing.
There are many things you could call William S. Burroughs, who was born a hundred years ago this month, but Will Self prefers to call him “the original junkie,” a title which reflects the author’s hedonistic background and the strangeness of books like Naked Lunch. Self takes a close look at Burroughs’s novel-cum-memoir, Junky, in The Guardian.