Alice Munro announced her retirement from writing this week. “Perhaps, when you’re my age,” she told a National Post reporter, “you don’t wish to be alone as much as a writer has to be.” Previously the Canadian author announced her retirement in 2006, but that didn’t stop her from publishing two more books – including her latest story collection, Dear Life (Millions review). The uninitiated can get a primer on her entire oeuvre by checking out our comprehensive Beginner’s Guide to Alice Munro. See also: “Can Writers Retire? Let Us Count the Ways”
Michael Lewis’s last book made our Hall of Fame. Now he’s back with a new book that widens his focus to the financial dramas around the world with Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World. Also out this week, Jose Saramago’s posthumously published Cain, Helen DeWitt’s long-awaited Lightning Rods, Michael Ondaatje’s The Cat’s Table (reviewed here), Anne Enright’s The Forgotten Waltz, Alice Hoffman’s The Dovekeepers, Jim Harrison’s The Great Leader, and Booker shortlisted The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes. Also out: From the master of “molecular gastronomy,” The Family Meal: Home Cooking with Ferran Adria and, as noted in our recent piece “What Ever Happened to the New Atheism?” The Magic of Reality by Richard Dawkins.
The gulf between Picador and every other publishing house continues to yawn in one major aspect: literary playlists. To honor the release of Dylan Jones’s Biographical Dictionary of Popular Music, Justin Hargett put together a list of his “Favorite Covered Songs!” (Previously: the “Marriage Playlist” for Jeffrey Eugenides)
“My friend Kathy was a Mustang Ranch girl in the eighties, had a line on how to bring cocaine into town, and was party girl central and making a lot of money. She was in the center of it in a way that my characters can see but they can’t ever get to. Reno is a beautiful, beat up, and weird town devoted to this false notion of luck. It’s a beautiful place.” Talking with Christian Kiefer.
“Publishing is a word that, like the book, is almost but not quite a proxy for the ‘business of literature.’ Current accounts of publishing have the industry about as imperiled as the book, and the presumption is that if we lose publishing, we lose good books. Yet what we have right now is a system that produces great literature in spite of itself.” Twenty-first century publishing works in mysterious ways.
Recommended Reading: This fantastic essay by Lea Page at The Rumpus on memory, family, and a whole lot more than that: “There could be no argument, no defense. It was, in a literal sense, true. I had said that.Sure, she had left out a significant portion of the truth, but in doing so, she had revealed another. That was the one memory my mother cleaved to. That was the song she chose to sing of me. I was still losing at memory.”