Lots of new releases this week, among them a new paperback edition of Tenth of December by George Saunders. Also out: Leaving the Sea by Ben Marcus; The Radiance of Tomorrow by Ishmael Beah; On Such a Full Sea by Chang-rae Lee; The Scent of Pine by Lara Vapnyar; The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd; The Secret History of Las Vegas by Chris Abani; and Little Failure by Year in Reading alum Gary Shteyngart. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great 2014 Book Preview.
F. Scott Fitzgerald was too provocative even for the 1920s. His short story collection Taps at Reveille was never published the way he wanted it to be. When the stories came out in The Sunday Evening Post in the 1920s and '30s, all slang, slurs, and sexual innuendo were edited out. Now, almost a century later, we can read Fitzgerald's original work in a new Cambridge edition.
There’s an old story that states that Marcel Proust met James Joyce for five unremarkable minutes at a dinner party. Artistically significant though it may have been, it had less geopolitical significance than another famous meeting a hundred years earlier, in which Napoleon went out of his way to pay a visit to Goethe. As a new biography of the French emperor details, Napoleon couldn’t understand why Goethe admired Shakespeare.
Not caught up on the emerging Hermione/Ron scandal? Here’s a recap: a few days ago, J.K. Rowling not only said in an interview conducted by Emma Watson that she regretted pairing up Harry Potter’s best friends, she also said that Harry and Hermione should have ended up together. “[Pairing Hermione and Ron] was a choice I made for very personal reasons, not for reasons of credibility,” she said. “Am I breaking people’s hearts by saying this? I hope not.” (This might be a good time to revisit Michelle Dean on the series.)
Electric Literature’s posted a story by Jesmyn Ward, author of the reigning National Book Award-winning novel Salvage the Bones, as part of their ongoing Recommended Reading series. It’s worth checking out. Likewise, I recommend getting your hands on the latest issue of Oxford American so you can check out Ward’s inaugural “Native Daughter” column.
Year in Reading alumnus Alexander Chee writes about the impulse to write fiction, his first novel, and unpublished manuscripts in an essay for the Center For Fiction's Why Fiction Matters series. "The first story I ever invented for public consumption was in a book report back in grade school. I had made a vow to read every book in my grade school library, and at some point, as I made my way through them, I remember very clearly understanding that there was simply no way my teacher would know about every book ever published—this was before the Internet—and so I decided I would make one up and see if she noticed." Pair with this Millions piece, featuring six writers looking back on their first novels.