New this week: All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld; In the Course of Human Events by Mike Harvkey; Casebook by Mona Simpson; The Other Story by Tatiana de Rosnay; Vernon Downs by Jaime Clarke; and Labor Day: True Birth Stories by Today’s Best Women Writers, edited by Eleanor Henderson and Anna Solomon. For more on these titles and other new releases, check out our Great 2014 Book Preview.
“When it comes to the personal essay, we want so much and there is something cannibalistic about our desire. We want essayists to splay themselves bare. We want to see how much they are willing to bleed for us. This desire introduces an interesting tension for essay writers. How much should they bleed, and how much blood should they save for themselves?” Roxane Gay reviews Meghan Daum‘s The Unspeakable and reflects on the personal essay for The New York Times Book Review. Pair with our own Hannah Gersen‘s Millions review of the same book.
Seeing as yesterday was Donald Barthelme’s birthday, it’s as good a time as any to remember the short fiction icon. At Brain Pickings, Maria Popova reads Barthelme’s essay “Not-Knowing,” which you can find in the author’s collection of essays and interviews. Sample quote: “Art is not difficult because it wishes to be difficult, but because it wishes to be art.”
“This is the first time that the college has embarked on such a robust process for measuring Core Educational Competency In Reading Things In Books And Writing About Them, and we really can’t do it without your mandated participation. We have devised this rubric in consultation with the Office of Institutional Research About the Institution, which tirelessly gathers data and then enters it into spreadsheets. Please see their Statement of Very Worthy Goals in attachment 6.”
20 Under 40 alum and A Better Angel author Chris Adrian teamed up with Eli Horowitz to publish a digital novel with Atavist Books. The novel, titled The New World, employs new storytelling techniques made possible by Atavist software. It’s worth remembering here that the first book Atavist published was written by fellow 20-Under-40er Karen Russell.
Francine Prose has an idiosyncratic theory that the Hindu god Ganesh is a vital part of her writing process. In a VQR essay, she explains that her portrait of the deity (which she purchased forty years ago at a bazaar in Mumbai) gives her a kind of confidence that goes beyond superstition. As support for this belief, she points out that Ganesh is known in some quarters as “the writer’s god.”