How dedicated is Robert Caro to his task of identifying and faithfully portraying the character of Lyndon Johnson? So dedicated that he turned down free tickets to see Bryan Cranston’s play about the 36th President of the United States of America.
Out this week: The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen; Amiable with Big Teeth by Claude McKay; Autumn by Ali Smith; A Separation by Katie Kitamura; 300 Arguments by Sarah Manguso; The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso; Pachinko by Min Jin Lee; and Universal Harvester by John Darnielle. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
J. K. Rowling has confirmed that her new film, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, will be a trilogy. She’s also writing about Native American wizards on Pottermore, which, as our own Elizabeth Minkel has pointed out, has been controversial. It’s a good time to revisit our piece on J.K. Rowling’s second thoughts.
Lynn Shawcroft is comedian Mitch Hedberg’s widow, and she curates MitchHedberg.net. In a series of tweets this week, Shawcroft alluded to the possibility that she’ll be releasing Hedberg’s notebooks in the near future, perhaps as part of a book. Of course some excerpts from Hedberg’s notebooks are already available online, such as this fantastic sketch which explains the trouble with mingling before a comedy set.
Jeopardy! champion, Maphead author, and all-around puzzle whiz Ken Jennings has devised a month-long “Great American History Puzzle,” and the grand prize winner will receive a free trip to Washington D.C., as well as a “Secrets of the Smithsonian” tour no doubt reminiscent of touring the back room at the end of the first Indiana Jones movie.
New this week is The Tiger’s Wife, the hotly anticipated debut of Téa Obreht, the youngest of the New Yorker’s 20 Under 40 from last year. Also new in the fiction aisle is Carol Edgarian’s Three Stages of Amazement. David Brooks’s latest pop sociology effort The Social Animal is now out — this one, excerpted in the New Yorker — sets itself apart from similar tomes by illustrating its findings through a pair of fictional characters. Now out in paperback are National Book Award winner Lord of Misrule by Jaimy Gordon, Ian McEwan’s Solar, and Rebecca Skloot’s non-fiction blockbuster The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.