“Fifty Shades of Grey follows this long history of class ascendancy via feminine wiles, but does so cleverly disguised as an edgy modern bodice-ripper,” writes Heather Havrilesky in the latest issue of The Baffler. Throughout the piece, Havrilesky explores the way luxury brand fetishism and conspicuous consumption fueled E.L. James’s “female-friendly” pornography phenomenon
2012 could be the year that we get to know Sergei Dovlatov, and our own Sonya Chung may have played a role. Her 2009 piece on the forgotten Russian humorist helped land one of his stories in PEN America. Soon we started seeing Dovlatov mentioned everywhere, and last year, Counterpoint published The Suitcase, and now The Zone will be released this week. Other new releases this week: An Available Man by Hilma Wolitzer, Heft by Liz Moore, and The Evening Hour, a debut novel by Carter Sickels.
In the spring of 2006, John Unsworth taught a graduate seminar on "Twentieth-Century American Bestsellers." It led to one of history's finest class projects--a browsable database of bestsellers, 337 in all. As with any bestseller lists, you'll find a range of titles, everything from Thomas Wolfe to Tom Clancy, but click through and find that each entry includes an extremely detailed description of the book's history (these were compiled by graduate students, after all); a mini-essay on its reception; images of covers, page layouts, and even some ads; and more. It is, in short, bibliophilic crack. (Thanks Craig)
Millions readers in New York: Please join us tonight at McNally Jackson bookstore in Manhattan to celebrate the release of The Late American Novel: Writers on the Future of Books. I'll be joined by my co-editor Jeff Martin, as well as Reif Larsen and some of the book's other contributors, including Millions staff writers Garth Risk Hallberg and Emily St. John Mandel. We're looking forward to seeing you there!
Walter White is the new Walt Whitman. "Both are intellectual pioneers in their fields, their legacies—centuries apart—demanding risk, casting them outside of society, gliding out into the world, liberated from societal constraints," Kera Bolonik writes about Whitman's influence on Breaking Bad.