On the New Yorker’s Elements blog, our own Mark O’Connell writes about Cloak, a new app which lets you avoid people you don’t want to bump into by accident. Despite the fact that Mark can see himself using the app, he finds it “ultimately troubling,” in large part because it strikes him as “such a lonely thing to have achieved through technological control of our social environments.” (Speaking of apps, have you read Mark’s epic e-book?)
“For Germany, the Wagners are what the Atreidai are in Greek mythology. One of them, Atreus, committed a grave sin, casting a curse over all subsequent generations, beginning with Agamemnon and Menelaus, followed by Iphigenia, Orestes and Electra. The family is marked by enmity, as is the Wagner family.” On a certain influential composer.
A big haul of new books this week. At the top of the list is Chad Harbach’s much anticipated debut, The Art of Fielding. Also new this week: the new Christopher Hitchens collection Arguably, Lily Tuck’s I Married You for Happiness, Nuruddin Farah’s Crossbones, and Anna Solomon’s debut The Little Bride. Sebastian Barry’s Booker long-listed On Canaan’s Side is now available in the U.S. And Great House by Nicole Krauss is now out in paperback.
“Every writer needs an editor, and anyone who says he doesn’t has a fool for a muse.” The New York Times interviews journalists on the importance of editors, and it’s well worth the short read. Pair with our own Edan Lepucki‘s conversation with her editor.
In celebration of Jewish Book Month, Ruchama King Feuerman—featured at Bloom in January—will go on tour to read & discuss her novel In the Courtyard of the Kabbalist. The tour kicks off today at the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Book & Arts Fair in Houston; check NYRB’s event page for more upcoming appearances.
“The concept that being American means, by definition, having an ideal that you’ve failed to live up to—that’s another crucial thing I learned from [James Alan] McPherson. It is not a rejection of America for Michelle Obama to note that her daughters are growing up in a house built by slaves. Or a rejection of a white writer to point out that Fitzgerald was a racist. Instead, it is American to admit those facts and to find in that admission a way forward.” On American values, Barack Obama, and the legacy of James Alan McPherson over at The Literary Hub.
Lots of new books out this week: Where Mortals Sleep, previously unpublished short fiction by Kurt Vonnegut, with a foreword by Dave Eggers; A Life, one of what will be several biographies of J.D. Salinger arriving over the next couple of years; Stanley Fish tells us How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One; Brian Greene introduced the masses to string theory with The Elegant Universe, and now he’s back with The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos; Julie Orringer’s The Invisible Bridge is out in paperback; and finally, from Penguin Classics, The Penguin Book of Victorian Women in Crime: Forgotten Cops and Private Eyes from the Time of Sherlock Holmes.