Did Gollum have a vitamin D deficiency? In the Medical Journal of Australia, Joseph A. Hopkinson and Nicholas S. Hopkinson posit that the Lord of the Rings saga could’ve been prevented had the inhabitants of Middle Earth just gotten a little more sunlight. “Systematic textual analysis of The Hobbit supports our initial hypothesis that the triumph of good over evil may be assisted to some extent by the poor diet and lack of sunlight experienced by the evil characters.”
New out this week is Gryphon, Charles Baxter’s new collection of stories. Joseph McElroy also has a new collection of stories out, Night Soul. The latest McSweeney’s (featuring that fragment from an abandoned novel by Michael Chabon) is now available, and new in paperback is Peter Carey’s Parrot and Olivier in America. Many more new books to look forward to, of course, in our massive preview published last week.
“A good translation, Han’s subconscious seems to suggest, is a living, breathing thing, which must be understood on its own terms, discovered from beneath the great white sheet.” The New Yorker explores Han Kang‘s novels and the complex nature of translation. From our archives: The Millions review of Kang’s The Vegetarian and an essay on what gets lost (and transformed) in translation.
You may have heard that Vulture editor Adam Sternbergh was nominated for an Edgar Award for his book Shovel Ready last week. Now, to give Vulture readers a taste of his literary style, he’s published an annotated excerpt of the sequel Near Enemy, which came out earlier this month. As the introduction puts it, the excerpt includes “thoughts on history’s first murder, the dubious appeal of Pepé Le Pew, and just how crazy New York apartment locks used to be.”
“Our culture claims to celebrate vigor and well-being, yet holds up steroid-addled men and impossibly thin women as models of physical perfection. Those of us unwilling to juice or starve ourselves are left feeling inadequate and confused about why we do not bear any resemblance to the humans we are meant to emulate.” Michael Ian Black reviews two books about the male physique — and reveals a bit about the unrealistic nature of our cultural expectations.
New this week: God Help the Child by Toni Morrison; The Blondes by Emily Schultz; The Miracle Girl by Andrew Roe; Positive by David Wellington; This Is How It Really Sounds by Stuart Archer Cohen; When the Night Comes by Favel Parrett; Seven Devils by M.G. Miller; and Paris Red by Maureen Gibbon. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great 2015 Book Preview.