Out this week: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (who Angela Qian wrote about for The Millions in September); We Are Water by Wally Lamb; Aimless Love: New and Selected Poems by Billy Collins; Roth Unbound: A Writer and His Books by Claudia Roth Pierpont; and The Eternal Wonder, a recently discovered novel by Nobel laureate Pearl S. Buck. For more on these and other new books, check out our Great Second-half 2013 Book Preview.
Sometimes the most important issues are the most difficult to discuss. While a conversation about diversity in literature has started, The New Republic asks us why socioeconomic status is often left out of the conversation. Our essay on the rise and fall of the creative class pairs nicely.
“But now that my first book of poems has come out, I’ve become increasingly aware of the challenge of writing a good inscription to a reader. As soon as I’ve got the pen in my hand, I become the most unoriginal message-writer on the planet.” On a little-known gripe about book signings.
Tournament of Books fans: The official Tournament of Books bracket has been posted. Along with an introduction to this year’s literary throwdown, readers can get a gorgeous bracket poster, sure to become the decorative centerpiece of any library wall.
“They said banning me from Twitter would finish me off. Just as I predicted, the opposite has happened.” Talking Points Memo reports that Simon & Schuster is moving forward with plans to publish a book by Breitbart News editor and white nationalist Milo Yiannopoulos, whose extended harassment of comedian Leslie Jones finally led to his expulsion from Twitter last year. Critics of the publishing house have called for its boycott, including some of its own authors.
Writing in the London Review of Books (Reg. Req.), Evgeny Morozov clued me onto how “scientists at UCLA – with funding from the Chinese government – have built an ‘image to text’ system that automatically produces text summaries of what is taking place in captured video.” A similar technology was also developed by NYU student Matt Richardson, whose “descriptive camera” can “automatically describe the scene in a camera’s viewfinder, which, when the image was uploaded, would make it easier to find.” Meanwhile one Twitter is describing typical Instagram shots in 140 characters or fewer.
Writing about European immigration laws for the London Review of Books, Jeremy Harding drops this excellent line: “Perhaps we should agree to think of rights and values as limited resources, and admit that Europe is now caught in a bitter struggle over who can or can’t access them.”