Recommended Reading: Dean Young’s poem “Why I Haven’t ‘Outgrown Surrealism,’ No Matter What That Moron Reviewer Wrote” for Plume.
Vanity Fair remembers Christopher Hitchens, a favorite of ours who was always fun to root for, and who, as you’ve no doubt heard by now, died last night. Andrew Sullivan remembers an email exchange from happier times. Hitchens’ ebook from this year, The Enemy, is in our Hall of Fame, and we reviewed his memoir, Hitch-22, last year.
Sylvia Plath’s final days have long been a source of fascination and horror for many readers. In a forthcoming unauthorized biography of Plath’s husband Ted Hughes, it is claimed that one of Hughes’s more contentious poems, “Last Letter,” was written after an argument the couple had the night before Plath took her own life. Ted Hughes: An Unauthorized Life is out next week.
The Guardian gives us Booker-winner Line of Beauty “condensed in the style of the original.”Some of you may have already seen this one: The 100 Greatest Books of all Time, also from the Guardian. How many have you read? I’m at 24, and I love that Kingsley Amis’ Lucky Jim makes the list. To anyone who is looking for a recommendation on what to read right now: get Lucky Jim, you’ll love it.Weren’t we talking about ISBNs the other day? Here’s a new blog about ISBNs and “book information” by a former Amazon employee and the creator of isbn.nu.Steve Landsburg asks: Too many books? I’m not completely sure I see his point. He seems to be implying that people only read one book a year. Furthermore, publishers fall all over themselves trying to create a blockbuster book; it’s far more cost-effective to promote a few guaranteed big sellers than a lot of risky titles. Sad but true. Perhaps the better thing to do is not to bemoan the inevitable Da Vinci Codes but to instead look for creative, cost-effective ways to promote riskier books.Malcolm Gladwell, author of the trendsetting book about trendsetting, The Tipping Point, has new book coming out called Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, in which he “reveals that what we think of as decisions made in the blink of an eye are much more complicated than assumed.”
The recipients of the 2016 Kirkus Prize have been announced, among them the novel The Sport of Kings by C. E. Morgan and In the Darkroom by Susan Faludi, a meditation on her father’s gender transition, in the non-fiction category. We reviewed two of the other fiction finalists this year: Carousel Court (here) and The Underground Railroad (here).
What is the price of diversity? Colleen Muir asks this question at The Rumpus in relation to the hefty cost of writers’ conferences. A piece of her essay: “I’m not claiming that Breadloaf [sic] lacks for talent, or that its writers don’t have interesting things to say. But it certainly lacks for diversity in at least one significant way, because most attendees share a privileged experience of the world.” Pair with Gail Gauthier’s essay on working in the kitchen crew at Bread Loaf.
“A few weeks ago, I texted my writing group, ‘All I really want is to be just famous enough to have my own celebrity book club.’ I was kind of kidding. But I kind of wasn’t. Because, like portion-packaged organic snacks delivered to your door, isn’t book club ownership one step closer to having it all?” Laura Briskman on the faux intimacy of celebrity book clubs, as more and more celebrities start their own post Oprah.
Year in Reading alum Laura van den Berg has a new book out this week, as does Amy Tan. Also out: Jeeves and the Wedding Bells by Sebastian Faulks; Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield; and a memoir by YiR alum Rob Delaney. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great Second-Half 2013 Book Preview.