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.
What if the Tour de France nearly ground to a halt due to fiction? Imagine the best bikers in the world reading themselves into injury. At The Morning News, our own Matt Seidel imagines the chaos, making clear what happens when professional athletes meet page-turners. You could also read Matt’s essay on Tim Krabbé’s book The Rider.
If you’ve ever heard that literary skill is synonymous with a good memory, you’ve likely bemoaned your own forgetfulness, especially when it comes to important things. Tim Parks felt the same way, until he read a new book on forgetting, which led him to wonder how much knowledge we can retain. In The New York Review of Books, he tackles the paradox of the reader’s memory. You could also read our own Mark O’Connell’s review of Parks’s book Italian Ways.
“The greatest Intelligence Agency use of Twitter that never really happened is @US_CIA, a remarkable account that posted plausible Langley public notices that became noticeably stranger over time. Eventually it was claiming 30% of all CIA employees were LGBT and/or First Nation and tweeting directly to @khamenei_ir, Iran's ayatollah.” At The Awl, Ken Layne investigates the world of Espionage Twitter.
Annalee Newitz asks "What does science fiction tell us about the future of reproductive rights?"
W.S. Merwin, a Hawaii-based poet born in 1927, has been named the 17th Poet Laureate of the United States. A fellow poet writes, "There is something monklike about Merwin ... He is trying to achieve a contemplative distance from desire and ambition."