Thomas Pynchon’s new novel, Bleeding Edge, which we covered in several Curiosities, is out this week. Also out: Traveling Sprinkler by Nicholson Baker; Pickett’s Charge by Charles McNair; and a new translation of Boccaccio’s Decameron by UT-Austin professor Wayne Rebhorn. (For more on these and other upcoming titles, check out our Great 2013 Second-half Book Preview.)
In their closing statements, Russian dissidents du jour Pussy Riot cited the authors who inspired them and placed themselves in Russia’s rich history of imprisoning their artists. Also check out Carol Rumens’s excellent translation of the song that landed Pussy Riot in hot water.
“The purpose of being a serious writer is not to express oneself, and it is not to make something beautiful, though one might do those things anyway. Those things are beside the point. The purpose of being a serious writer is to keep people from despair. If you keep that in mind always, the wish to make something beautiful or smart looks slight and vain in comparison. If people read your work and, as a result, choose life, then you are doing your job.” Year in Reading alumna Sarah Manguso on envy and the purpose of writing. Pair with Jaime Green’s Millions review of Manguso’s Ongoingness.
In the latest issue of The New York Review of Books, Jean Strouse brings us inside John Singer Sargent’s inner circle. The exhibition, “Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends,” is on view at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art until October 4th. You could also read Edra Ziesk’s piece on what makes a friend.
ICYMI, J.J. Abrams (of Lost and Star Trek fame) will release a novel — conceived by Abrams and written by Doug Dorst — in October with the enigmatic title of S. Last month, he released the first half of a teaser trailer; this week, he released the second half.
David Kurnick explores what makes Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels so addictive. As he puts it, “In Ferrante we see what grand novelistic ambition looks like devoid of writerly vanity.” Pair with Cora Currier’s essay on reading Italy through Ferrante’s books.