New this week: The Brunist Day of Wrath by Robert Coover; Frog Music by Emma Donoghue; Off Course by Michelle Huneven; And the Dark Sacred Night by Julia Glass; Worst. Person. Ever. by Douglas Coupland; The Ballad of a Small Player by Lawrence Osborne; Love & Treasure by Ayelet Waldman; and The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great 2014 Book Preview.
“The only way to avenge all the things white people did to you was to get your kid into Harvard. You bided your time. You worked your ass off, day after day, year after year.” Our own Marie Myung-Ok Lee has a new short story in Joyland called “La Piñata” (and of course you can also read her in these pages, too).
A new Hemingway App promises to trim the fat from your writing in a way that the Great Bearded One would’ve approved. The app uses various color codes to highlight writing written in the passive voice, writing that’s too hard to read, and also unnecessary adverbs or complex phrases. Sounds interesting enough, no? Well, the problem is that someone ran the Hemingway App on some actual Ernest Hemingway writing, and it turns out that Papa himself didn’t even write to the app’s standard.
Nowadays, Huck Finn is as a lightning rod for racial issues, which explains why so many schools have banned the book over the years. But in the late 18th century, when Mark Twain published it, the novel was more controversial as a critique of childhood in America. In the Times, Year in Reading alum Parul Sehgal reads Huck Finn’s America, a new book by Andrew Levy that sheds light on the context of the era. You could also read our founder C. Max Magee on reading Huck Finn as a child.