A high school music teacher is trying his damnedest to establish an official state song for New Jersey, which is apparently the only state in America without its own anthem. If you’re curious, here’s a list of the 49 other states and their official, state-sanctioned musical accompaniments.
Though excellent fiction has been staged in restaurants (Richard Russo’s Empire Falls comes to mind, as well as YA novel Hope was Here), I have to admit Rebecca Makkai at Ploughshares has a point that dining-in-public scenes are getting a bit old. “All the unfolding of napkins and poking at the French fries… it’s filler.”
The word “nostalgia” comes from the Greek root nostos, meaning “return home,” and algos, or “pain.” It’s painful because we cannot return home again. Ramp up the nostalgia and check out this elegy to the old school book tour by Keith Lee Morris. If we’re talking book tours, here’s a piece on the distinct personality types sure to derail your literary event.
“To get me through a 550-page collection, the stories must be very good indeed. These are.” When Lionel Shriver participated in our Year in Reading ritual several years back, she dedicated her reading diary to William Trevor, who just passed away. “Trevor’s writing is so perfect that you don’t even notice it’s perfect,” she wrote. “He mainlines pure narrative directly into your veins. The words never get in the way; the words, like their author, disappear.”
Out this week: The Windfall by Diksha Basu; Quiet Until the Thaw by Alexandra Fuller; The Destroyers by Christopher Bollen; River Under the Road by Scott Spencer; The Confusion of Languages by Siobhan Fallon; and Modern Gods by Nick Laird. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
At one time considered to be the work of demons or incubi, sleep paralysis – the “transition state between wakefulness and rest characterized by complete muscle atonia” – has since become accepted as a well-documented and not very uncommon phenomenon. Still, “the experience can be terrifying,” writes Karen Emslie in her recent piece about making the best of the condition.