When The Beatles made Rubber Soul, the band probably didn’t realize it would inspire some of the greatest contemporary fiction. First, Haruki Murakami named his novel Norwegian Wood. Now, “Drive My Car” inspired his new short story. Bungeishunju published the story today, but English readers are still waiting on the translation. Until then, we can always listen to the album. Pair with: Our essay on the soundtracks behind books.
Google ran into a wall of litigation when it tried to create a public digital archive of every book in the world. Now a team of academics is taking on the challenge. Nicholas Carr examines whether Robert Darton and Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society can succeed where Silicon Valley failed. Also be sure to check out our review of Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains.
Why is Hamlet so maddeningly indecisive? It’s a question as well-trod as any in literature, yet few people question that dithering is what defines the Prince of Denmark. In The Irish Times, Brian Dillon looks at another way of thinking about the character, one laid out in a recent book, that centers on the idea that Hamlet is crippled by “the burden of knowledge itself.”
“We don’t have to look at Iraq for an analogue to Missouri,” writes Elif Batuman. “We can look instead at Missouri, or elsewhere in the United States.” Indeed for many ordinary Americans, as Jabari Asim echoes in his poem inspired by the recent events in Ferguson, “It’s more than time we had that talk / about what to say and where to walk, / how to act and how to strive, / how to be upright and stay alive.”
Out this week: Levels of Life by Julian Barnes; The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri; Between Friends by Amos Oz; and a new paperback edition of The Round House by Louise Erdrich. For more information on these books and other new titles, check out our Great Second-half 2013 Book Preview.