Could James Baldwin be America’s greatest essayist? Ta-Nehisi Coates believes so — at The Atlantic, he argues that The Fire Next Time shows Baldwin committing “amazing acts of intellectual and emotional courage.” (Related: Buzz Poole paid tribute to Baldwin back in 2008.)
This week sees the release of Edward St. Aubyn’s final “Patrick Melrose novel,” At Last. A new, omnibus edition of all the novels in the series is also out. Steve Erickson’s new novel These Dreams of You is out, as is The Art of Hearing Heartbeats, a debut effort set in Burma by German novelist Jan-Philipp Sendker. This week also sees the release, on Blu-ray, of the 50th anniversary edition of To Kill a Mockingbird.
“I lost the first good novel I ever wrote to a computer disaster. It happened at a crucial time in my life. I was working nights, living in a mouse-infested tenement in Giuliani-era Harlem and still figuring out if I could even do this thing — become a writer for real.” Mat Johnson on NPR’s All Tech Considered blog about the ultimate authorial nightmare, and how he recovered from it. Pair with our review of Johnson’s latest novel, Loving Day.
Courtesy of fake-news juggernaut The Onion, a new viral website honest about its purpose: “I think we see the ideal ClickHole reader as a hollow shell who exists purely to click on our content and then share that content with other hollow shells.” (Also: the same technique on headlines, applied to books.)
In his lifetime, Vladimir Nabokov travelled widely, logging many years each in St. Petersburg, Berlin, and Ithaca, New York, where he wrote Lolita while teaching at Cornell. His peripatetic history explains why few people know he spent a summer in Utah, during which he spent a lot of time chasing butterflies and fishing in the streams. In The American Scholar, an excerpt of Nabokov in America, an upcoming book by Richard Roper. You could also read our own Garth Risk Hallberg on Nabokov’s Ada, or Ardor.