In the latest entry in By Heart, the Atlantic series we’ve written about a few times, Ben Marcus (who recently came out with a new book) reflects on the true meaning of the word “Kafkaesque.” Marcus interprets Kafka’s “A Message from the Emperor” as a parable about the difficulty of real human connection. (Related: there’s now a Kafka video game.)
In 1970, a journalist named Joseph Epstein wrote an essay for Harper’s that came to a frightening conclusion: that Epstein would, if possible, “wish homosexuality off the face of the Earth.” The incendiary language inspired Merle Miller, a former editor at the magazine, to publish a call-to-arms, “What It Means to Be a Homosexual,” that became the basis of the book On Being Different. Emily Greenhouse puts the essay in context at Page-Turner.
For the theory-obsessed, soon-to-be liberal arts graduate on your list: the essential Verso Books undergraduate reading list.
Late November brings work of another favorite Madrileño to the forefront. The final book of Javier Marías‘s Your Face Tomorrow trilogy, Poison, Shadow, and Farewell, will be published at the end of the month by New Directions. The incomparable Marias will make two New York appearances, a reading at the 92nd St Y (with Paul Auster) and a conversation with Paul Holdengräber at the New York Public Library.
“She loved that I had to kiss her goodbye 16 times or 24 times if it was Wednesday.” In poet Neil Hilborn’s slam poem “OCD,” he discusses what it’s like for a person with obsessive compulsive disorder to fall in love and incorporates his tics in the performance.
Quarry, The final book of Iain M. Banks, who died this month, is now out. Also out: Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld, On the Floor by Afric Campbell, and, as an “e-single” spin-off to his bestseller Rules of Civility, Amor Towles is out with Eve in Hollywood.