Out this week: Young Skins by Colin Barrett; Decoy by Allan Gurganus; The Unloved by Deborah Levy; Aquarium by David Vann; The Sellout by Paul Beatty; Crow Fair by Thomas McGuane; and Kazuo Ishiguro's first new novel in ten years (which our own Lydia Kiesling reviewed yesterday). For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great 2015 Book Preview.
Amazon has unveiled its "Kindle Singles" store. Says Amazon: "Typically between 5,000 and 30,000 words, each Kindle Single is intended to allow a single killer idea -- well researched, well argued and well illustrated -- to be expressed at its natural length." In practice, this appears to mean short stories as well as journalistic pieces that have (perhaps) been expanded upon. For example, a piece from n+1 is included, "Octomom and the Politics of Babies" by Mark Greif. Amazon writes that in this piece Greif "updates his insightful essay from last spring, where only the journal’s 10,000 readers had access to his dead-on critique of the American media culture that produced its own eight-headed monster." Bottom line: Amazon is fishing for higher quality content at the low price points that Amazon readers have come to crave.
"A film based on a historical subject, even a beautifully shot one, can remind us without meaning to that although reading in the US is a minority activity, the book is still the only medium in which you can make a complicated argument." Darryl Pinckney writes about "Some Different Ways of Looking at Selma" for the New York Review of Books. Pair with our own Bill Morris's Millions review of the film.
The state funds for California's libraries have been dwindling for the better part of a decade, but now they face total elimination. Put into concrete terms: in the 1999-2000 fiscal year, libraries received $56.8 million from the state; in the 2008-2009 fiscal year, that number was down to $12.9 million; now they'll receive $0.
With news of this year’s winner fresh off the press, it’s easy to see how the Literary Review’s “Bad Sex Awards” are an annual delight to many readers (as well as an annual horror to several authors). But are they also counter-productive? As one former “winner” of the award asks, is the Bad Sex Award “anything more than a sort of moral outrage dressed up as a quest for high standards in writing?”