This week, our own Lydia Kiesling took part in The Morning News Tournament of Books, where she adjudicated a showdown between Scott McClanahan’s Hill William and Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being. Who went on to the next round: the trans-Pacific odyssey, or the tale of West Virginia? (You could also read our own Edan Lepucki’s Tournament contribution from last year, or else read our own Nick Moran’s Year in Reading piece on Scott McClanahan.)
This weekend–at 2:30 am on Saturday, to be precise–Twitter bot @everyword was set to complete its 7-year run with the final word in the English language: “zymurgy.” Unexpectedly, the bot tweeted again half an hour later–with a nontraditional character it had surreptitiously glossed on the first run: éclair. Since @everyword, like Lazarus, probably won’t get the same fuss after its second death, check out The Guardian’s interview with creator Adam Parrish now.
“One reason presidents are drawn to the genre is surely its escapism — its promise to replace impossible decisions with comforting formulas.” For The New York Times, Craig Fehrman writes about United States presidents who have a predilection for mystery novels. If you need your mystery fix too, we have a list with five crime books with female detectives.
Leslie Jamison’s new essay collection is getting lots of plaudits, not least here at The Millions, where Ryan Teitman argued that Jamison manages to “meet her subjects in utter intimacy.” At the Tin House blog, Stephen Sparks interviews Jamison, who talks about the book, her “shame-seeking superpower” and her epigraph-cum-tattoo.
Francine Prose has an idiosyncratic theory that the Hindu god Ganesh is a vital part of her writing process. In a VQR essay, she explains that her portrait of the deity (which she purchased forty years ago at a bazaar in Mumbai) gives her a kind of confidence that goes beyond superstition. As support for this belief, she points out that Ganesh is known in some quarters as “the writer’s god.”
In mid-January, ten days after moving to California, Geoff Dyer suffered a stroke while throwing away trash in his new home. At the hospital, he recovered quickly, but the incident left him “conscious that the ground could open Adairishly beneath my feet at any moment.” In the LRB, he writes about the experience. (Related: Dyer wrote two Year in Reading entries for The Millions.)