“Too often, being on the left tasks you with a vigilant daily quest to avoid being tagged with snobbery. In sociological living, we place value on those works or groups that seem most likely to force a reevaluation of an exclusive or oppressive order, or an order felt to be oppressive simply because exclusive. And yet despite this perpetual reevaluation of all values, the underlying social order seems unchanged; the sense of it all being a game not only persists, but hardens.” From n + 1, the latest “Intellectual Situation”: “Too Much Sociology.”
In the New York Times, Mokoto Rich highlights the superfluousness of book covers in the digital age and the marketing challenges that result. cf. "Ether Between the Covers: Gifting Books in a Digital Age."
"In his column, Manjoo goes on to call out virtual reality for being 'a lonely, anti-social affair'—but, hey, isn’t that what reading a novel used to be? I mean, before we figured out how to make books ping and arouse competitive instincts by flagging favorite passages of readers who got there before we did. (I don’t mean to harp on Farhad Manjoo or to denigrate his excellent work; his reticence is shared by others in both legacy and new media cautioning against VR.)" It looks like VR is in desperate need of good storytellers.
You could spend a long car ride thinking about about all of the books that are currently outselling Rand Paul’s newest, Our Presidents & Their Prayers: Proclamations of Faith by America’s Leaders. According to data obtained from Nielsen BookScan, Paul’s book has sold less than 500 copies in two weeks. For reference, the end of Michelle Bachmann’s ill-fated 2012 presidential campaign was foreshadowed by her book, Core of Conviction, selling just a few thousand copies in the same time that it has taken Paul’s to sell hundreds.
Tom Wolfe is back with his new novel Back to Blood (our review) and Jami Attenberg's The Middlesteins is out. Lemony Snicket is kicking off a new series for kids, illustrated by artist Seth. Finally, do you want to know everything about everything? The Onion is looking out for you with its new Onion Book of Known Knowledge: A Definitive Encyclopaedia Of Existing Information.
USA Today is running an excerpt of Denis Johnson's much buzzed about new doorstop Tree of Smoke.The New Yorker Food Issue, to my mind the highlight of the New Yorker publishing year, has arrived. Somehow I look forward to this one as much as I did the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue when I was twelve. Much of the good stuff isn't online, but you can get a taste of the food writing on offer with a series of short essays under theme "Family Dinner." Aleksandar Hemon, Gary Shteyngart, Nell Freudenberger, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, David Sedaris, Anthony Lane, and Donald Antrim are on the menu.