Don’t Cry author Mary Gaitskill reviews Gillian Flynn’s wildly successful thriller, Gone Girl, for the pages of Bookforum. What she finds is that the book isn’t really frightening because of its plot per se, but rather because its two main characters “do not resemble actual people so much as grotesquely smiling masks driven by forces of extreme artifice, and it’s exactly that extreme artificial quality that’s frightening to the point of sickening.” For what it’s worth, Edan Lepucki, Michael Bourne, Ed Park, Janet Potter, and Jennifer duBois each named Flynn’s book in their most recent Year in Reading pieces.
W.S. Merwin, a Hawaii-based poet born in 1927, has been named the 17th Poet Laureate of the United States. A fellow poet writes, "There is something monklike about Merwin ... He is trying to achieve a contemplative distance from desire and ambition."
From Flavorwire: in 1970 William S. Burroughs teamed up with British cartoonist and painter Malcolm McNeill to "put together what they called a ‘Word/Image novel’ (the term ‘graphic novel’ had not yet been popularized) and shopped it to publishers. After seven years of trying to sell the new genre, Burroughs and McNeill gave up. Next year the work will finally see the light of day.”
“So much of the way books get classified has to do with marketing decisions. I think it’s more useful to think of literary books and sci-fi/fantasy books as existing on a continuum. To oppose them, to suggest that one category excludes the other, always feels bogus to me.” Talking with Karen Russell.
What was the very first ebook? It’s hard to say with any degree of precision, but a pretty good candidate is Peter James’s Host, which was copied and stored on a floppy disk back in 1993. At The Guardian, a look back at the early life of the format. You could also read David Rothman’s tribute to the ebook pioneer Michael Hart. (h/t The Paris Review)