In January, I wrote about the release of William Styron’s letters, which reveal, among other things, that Styron requested a book on Nat Turner after visiting “the most enormous house [he’d] ever seen” in Cornwall. At the Times Literary Supplement, you can read more.
“If one-sentence stories are as common as snowflakes, one-sentence novels are as rare as white ravens.” At The New Yorker, Brad Leithauser writes about the one-sentence novel or the point when the story builds to a particular sentence. To give you an example, here’s one of his favorites from Lolita: “I am thinking of aurochs and angels, the secret of durable pigments, prophetic sonnets, the refuge of art.”
The luck of the Irish is undoubtedly with Poetry Magazine this month in conjunction with the publication of their special Irish issue. In it, twenty-five Irish poets from Caitriona O’Reilly to Declan Ryan showcase some of the best of what the Emerald Isle has to offer; here is Patrick Cotter introducing the book for The Irish Times.
Amazon, whose tense negotiations with Hachette in the past months have led them to slow ship-times for its books, offered last night “to fund 50% of an author pool—to be allocated by Hachette—to mitigate the impact of this dispute on author royalties, if Hachette funds the other 50%.” Of course, Hachette may find calculating and allocating damages awkward so soon after authors flexed their social-media muscle. Sidebar: Amazon claimed “989 of 1000” items sold would be unaffected by this continuing “business interruption,” which might mean a full 1.1 percent of their business comes from just one mid-sized traditional publisher—heartening news from an unlikely source.
It’s a big week for new books. Amitav Ghosh’s River of Smoke is now out, as is Lost Memory of Skin by Russell Banks, Chango’s Beads and Two-Tone Shoes by William Kennedy, Luminous Airplanes by Paul La Farge, and The Funny Man by John Warner, who recently appeared in these pages. Philip Roth’s American Trilogy is getting the Library of America treatment. (Capsule previews of all of the preceding titles are available here, incidentally). New in non-fiction is Stephen Greenblatt’s The Swerve: How the World Became Modern and Susan Orlean’s Rin Tin Tin. And out in paperback: none other than Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom.
In 2011 I wrote about a group of Chilean Communists who wished to exhume Pablo Neruda’s body. They alleged that Neruda was murdered. Now, two years later, a judge has ordered the corpse to be exhumed and autopsied in order to set the record straight.