Why should a college student major in English? It’s a question with hundreds of answers, but one of the most common is that reading, more so than other activities, makes you a better person. It sharpens your mind and hones your sense of morality. But what if this comforting idea — as close as you can get to a conviction held by all writers — has little to no basis in reality?
Among this week’s new books we have The Twelve by Justin Cronin (our review), The Fifty Year Sword by Mark Z. Danielewski (our interview), The Miracle Cures of Dr. Aira by César Aira (our review), and Zoo Time by past Booker Prize-winner Howard Jacobson. In non-fiction, Mark Bowden has penned an account of the killing of bin Laden.
Ashwin Sanghi first published his book, The Rozabal Line, on Lulu.com under the anagram Shawn Haigins. A revised edition of the book was published by Westland Ltd. & Tranquebar Press much later, and garnered controversy with readers pointing out similarities between its plot and the 26/11 terrorist attack on Mumbai. Sanghi’s response? “Any book based on research could have real life commonalities.”
“Since I often biked to my therapist’s, he took note of my helmet and asked how my new exercise regimen was going. It’s going great! I said. I love it! I wish I’d known earlier that I ought to bike. Now I hated going underground. It was like the death instinct to go underground, into the subway. I never realized I hated it so utterly until I didn’t have to do it anymore.” On riding a bike in New York.
Out this week: The Immortal Evening by Stanley Plumly; Last Winter We Parted by Fuminori Nakamura; Bathing the Lion by Jonathan Carroll; Sometimes the Wolf by Urban Waite; Splitting an Order by the former Poet Laureate Ted Kooser; Limonov by Emmanuel Carrère; and The Heart Is Strange by John Berryman, which I wrote about as part of our Great Second-half 2014 Book Preview.
“The female writers whose work has most recently come in for enthusiastic appraisal are by no means a homogeneous group; their influences, preoccupations and style vary wildly.” The Guardian profiles six women authors – Beryl Bainbridge, Anita Brookner, Angela Carter, Jenny Diski, Elizabeth Jane Howard, and Molly Keane – whose posthumous legacies continue to grow. Alix Hawley wrote a fantastic tribute to Brookner here earlier this year, noting, “[n]obody does depression quite so elegantly.”
“Woken is the usual past participle of the verb wake in modern English, but in some historical and contemporary varieties the past tense form woke is also used as a past participle.” The Oxford English Dictionary offers notes on the more than 600 new words, phrases, and senses added to its lexicon this quarter, including hygge, particle zoo, post-truth, and woke. Perhaps the OED can help our own Edan Lepucki, who needs help giving 11 feelings and experiences names.