New this week: The Good Lord Bird by James McBride; Night Film by Marisha Pessl; The Twelve Rooms of the Nile by Enid Shomer; The Daughters of Mars by Thomas Keneally; and Holy Orders, a new Quirke novel by John Banville/Benjamin Black. For more on these and other upcoming releases, check out our Great 2013 Second-Half Book Preview.
Pacific Standards profiles Ken Layne who quietly started the popular quarterly literary magazine, Desert Oracle for a town of 8,000 people. Now it has gained far more readers than that as it highlights works related to the American desert. "The reason that the Oracle works is that it's always trying to elicit that feeling, the awe and wonder that the desert reveals to you when you listen hard enough. Layne believes it's not an accident that religious awakenings, UFO sightings, walkabouts, and other revelations occur in the desert. It's a consequence of solitude, stark beauty, and the tenacious life that only the desert has."
Recommended reading: Biographile takes a month-by-month look back at the biggest news stories of 2014, and pairs each event with a recommended book.