Last month, in a review for The Millions, Chris Barsanti called George Packer’s The Unwinding an “awe-inspiring X-Ray of the modern American soul.” Now, in The Guardian, Sukhdev Sandhu calls the book “decent, meticulous and concerned,” though it could have benefited from the “roiling prose-fire of Rolling Stone journalist Matt Taibbi.”
Book reviews are great and all, but even we sometimes feel they’re missing something. Enter Kevin Thomas, whose HORN! illustrated reviews for The Rumpus are beautiful and informative in under 9 panels. Compare his pieces on Roxane Gay‘s An Untamed State or Leslie Jamison‘s The Empathy Exams to our reviews here and here, and be sure to check out the just-published HORN! The Collected Reviews.
In the new Granta, Adam Johnson writes about the mind-bending experience of traveling to North Korea, an experience which informed his Pulitzer-winning novel The Orphan Master’s Son. Perhaps the saddest anecdote — and there are a lot of sad anecdotes — is the one about the North Korean tour guide who couldn’t believe the author didn’t want to buy knockoff goods.
“We envision a library full of blood,” reads the “About” section of the Black Cake Records website. “We want the very best blood, & we want it everywhere.” Intrigued? You should be. The project, begun in 2013, serves as “a forum for producing & disseminating audio archives of contemporary poets reading their work.” For an introduction, you can start with “Trench Mouth” by Danniel Schoonebeek, whose debut collection, American Barricade, was published last month by YesYes Books.
“Like moss, my family grew on a mountain. In the utmost northwest of Spain, they set down roots so thick that only despair could rip them out.” Lorena Piñeiro writes at Midnight Breakfast about her family and penance. Pair with a piece on the business of nonfiction.
Recommended Reading: Poet and novelist Carmen Boullosa on her obsession with lost stories and found textual objects, as well as the efficacy of rereading.
What are college freshman reading? NPR shares a few selections from around the country. A recent study found that “The list of readings continues to be dominated by recent, trendy, and intellectually unchallenging books.” Our own Nick Ripatrazone writes about the difference between teaching high school and college students.