New this week: Orfeo by Richard Powers; Carthage by Joyce Carol Oates; Boy in the Twilight by Yu Hua; What We’ve Lost is Nothing by Rachel Louise Snyder; and His Day is Done by Maya Angelou. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great 2014 Book Preview.
Online used book marketplace AbeBooks rounded up the most expensive books sold via its site in October. At the top is a collection of Scottish music from 1782 that went for $8,500. Also on the list are some collectible Tolkien and Hemingway. (Thanks, Laurie)
“Over four seasons, ‘Younger’ became a ‘Gossip Girl’ for the publishing industry—a glossy, winking take on a bounded universe of writers and editors and marketing campaigns.” If you need a show and love literary references, Younger might be the way to go.
“I didn’t really understand what reading was for. If I wanted a story, the thing to do was to get my grandmother to read it to me. Then listening to her voice, her story-reading voice which always sounded a little incredulous, marvelling, yet full of faith, bravely insistent, and watching her face, its meaningful and utterly familiar expressions—lifted eyebrows, ominously sinking chin, brisk little nods of agreement when, as sometimes happened, a character said something sensible—then I would feel the story grow into life and exist by itself, so that it hardly seemed to me that she was reading it out of a book at all; it was something she had created herself, out of thin air… But one summer I had the whooping-cough, and afterwards I could not go swimming or jump off the beams in the barn or boss my little brother, because by that time he had the whooping-cough himself. My grandmother was off somewhere, visiting other cousins. So I swung on my swing until I got dizzy, and then for no reason in particular I took the Child’s History out of the bookcase in the front room, and sat down on the floor and started to read.” Alice Munro writes about A Child’s History of England, the first book she ever read.
Tana French pegs the cause of Ireland’s financial crisis on “a total disconnect between action and consequence.” For many Irish citizens since the collapse of the Celtic Tiger, she writes, “their whole sense of a world governed by coherent cause and effect, of their ability to have any agency in their own lives, came under attack.” Bonus: our own Edan Lepucki has previously written about French’s novels and plotting.
The process of “Russification” is almost as old as Russia itself, yet to see it take shape in the present day can be quite distressing. In particular, Vladimir Putin’s recent proposal in Nezavisimaya Gazeta — in which the prime minister called for a “Russian canon” of literary works — has some people worried about its insidious potential for propaganda. Count Alexander Nazaryan among that group.
In the early eighties, when the writer James Lasdun was working in publishing, he rejected a book by a writer who turned out to be a pen name for Doris Lessing. The fallout? He couldn’t bring himself to read her work until this year. (Related: our own Mark O’Connell’s interview with Lasdun about his latest book.)