New releases this week are Lydia Davis’ new translation of Madame Bovary, Ingrid Betancourt’s memoir Even Silence Has an End, The Prizefighter and the Playwright, a book about the unlikely relationship between George Bernard Shaw and boxer Gene Tunney, and the poetry collection Human Chain by Nobel-Prize winning poet Seamus Heaney.
“The clash of genre values is fundamental to the novelistic experience. That’s how we ought to be thinking about our books. Instead of asking whether a comic book could be “as valuable” as King Lear, we ought to ask how the values of tragedy and romance might collide.” Joshua Rothman writes about the coming “collapse of the genre system” and our own Emily St. John Mandel‘s National Book Award short-listed Station Eleven for The New Yorker.
Edmund White considers writers’ obsession with New York City in the 1970s, with photography by Peter Hujar. As White puts it, that was “a place and a time in which, rich or poor, you were stuck together in the misery (and the freedom) of the place, where not even money could insulate you.”
The unwritten rules of steampunk declare that in every steampunk story, the Hindenburg never caught fire, the world never lost its desire for blimp travel and the skies are dotted with hot air balloons and zeppelins. As it happens, this element of the genre stems from old utopian narratives, many of which depicted a future of widespread balloon travel. At Salon, Kyle Minor reviews the audiobook of a new history of the hot air balloon, written by Richard Holmes, that shows how the rise of air travel changed the world’s imaginative territory.