New this week: All That Is by James Salter, Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, Woke Up Lonely by Fiona Maazel, The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner, The Mermaid of Brooklyn by Amy Shearn, The Odds Against Tomorrow by Nathaniel Rich, and Our Man in Iraq by Robert Perisic.
Novels that focus on obsessive characters hinge on persnickety details. The need to depict accurately the mind of an obsessive demands that the novelist overemphasize the trifling and tangential. In The Kenyon Review, Vanessa Blakeslee reviews a new and representative example of the form, The Understory by Pamela Erens. Sample quote: “When the smaller steps of daily life are magnified, does that narrative reach its greatest potential for a unified and powerful resonance?” FYI, Erens has written for us.
A couple more highly anticipated fall books now have cover art. J.K. Rowling’s post-Harry Potter effort The Casual Vacancy features a simple, bold design. And the cover of Ian McEwan’s Sweet Tooth is a throwback to the design motifs of several decades ago.
The Rumpus has a little round up of links in anticipation of the 13th annual Gathering of the Juggalos. If you’re at all fascinated by the devoted fans of Insane Clown Posse, or if you yourself are one, you’d probably get a lot out of Kent Russell’s excellent essay “American Juggalo” in issue no. 12 of n+1.
A few days ago, Amazon announced the launch of their new “@Author” feature for the Kindle, whereby readers can click on an e-book passage and ask the author questions about it directly. I’ve broken out in a cold poststructuralist sweat about this over on The New Yorker’s Book Bench blog.