Both Flesh and Not, a posthumous collection of David Foster Wallace essays, is now out in paperback. Also out: Report from the Interior by Paul Auster; a new paperback edition of Stephanie LaCava’s An Extraordinary Theory of Objects; and a new collection of essays by C.S. Lewis. For more on these and other great titles, check out our Great Second-Half 2013 Book Preview.
Out this week: Everything Love Is by Claire King; They Are Trying to Break Your Heart by David Savill; The Moravian Night by Peter Handke; All Joe Knight by Kevin Morris; Of All That Ends by Günter Grass; and A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women by Siri Hustvedt. For more on these and other new titles, go read our latest fiction and nonfiction book previews.
“Through such experiments, [he] seems preoccupied by the need to make this familiar form something different from what we think it is, so that it can more capably capture a reality that has fast been veering into the unreal. It’s not just that the world outside the novel has made this jump, but also that we cannot evade the world’s strangeness when the storytellers, and the characters into which they breathe life, increasingly come from such different perspectives.” On Year in Reading alum Chang-rae Lee’s new novel (which you can buy with a nifty 3D book cover).
This week in the New Yorker Jane Hu analyzes the "dispassionate first-person narrators" prominent in works by English-speaking Asian authors and questions whether that makes it easier to identify with the narrator. She uses Chemistry by NBA 5 under 35 honoree Weike Wang as an example along with other recent works. "Against this tradition, there is, perhaps, another emerging, of Asian-Anglophone writers who both play with and thus begin to undo these tropes of Asian impersonality. The novels by Ishiguro, Park, Lin, and Wang all feature first-person narrators who keep their distance—actively denying readers direct interior access. This is true, it’s important to note, even when the characters they write are not themselves Asian."
Recommended Reading: a piece from the New York Review of Books blog on modern attention spans and what they mean for literature. Hint: it's not looking too promising. Tim Parks closes with a prediction that "the novel of elegant, highly distinct prose, of conceptual delicacy and syntactical complexity, will tend to divide itself up into shorter and shorter sections, offering more frequent pauses where we can take time out. The larger popular novel, or the novel of extensive narrative architecture, will be ever more laden with repetitive formulas, and coercive, declamatory rhetoric to make it easier and easier, after breaks, to pick up, not a thread, but a sturdy cable."