Our Great Second-Half 2014 Book Preview is coming very, very soon. But to warm you up until it finally gets here, you can check out Lev Grossman’s list of “the most likely contenders” for this summer’s “It Book.”
I’ve been meaning to link to Ed’s review of Stephen King’s Lisey’s Story in the Philly Inquirer. Jenny finds that not everyone agrees with Ed. Previously: King tells the Paris Review the he sees Lisey’s Story as a “special book.”Why Levi won’t be reading Thomas Pynchon’s new book Against the Day. Michael, meanwhile, already has his copy.Former book columnist at the Dallas Morning News Jerome Weeks has started a blog, book/daddy. Weeks took a buyout from his paper and has been vocal about the downsizing of cultural coverage in newspapers. See Weeks’ comment on a recent post on this topic.Assigned reading too hard for schoolkids say experts.Google recently subpoenaed a number of companies – Microsoft, Amazon, Yahoo and publishers Random House, Holtzbrinck, and HarperCollins – to collect evidence that will back its side in the copyright case against Google Books being brought by authors and publishers. Now, Amazon has rejected Google’s request, and the other companies are expected to follow suit.
Scientists confirmed recently that writers are more likely to struggle with mental illness (sometimes, as recently noted, due to syphilis). Since we’re so used to our alcoholic literary greats, and a smattering of suicidal ones (Plath, Woolf, Thompson, Wallace–and many more), this comes as no great surprise. On a happier note, a new study using fMRIs and MFA students has found that writers show different brain patterns than “normal people” just writing: in fact they resemble “expert” thinking patterns of all professionals doing what they’re best at–musicians, athletes, competitive Scrabble players. I don’t know if I’m happier to learn the fMRIs found no gaping black holes, or that MFAs do in fact teach you something.
Thanks to her new book, Lydia Davis is getting a lot of well-deserved attention, including an interview with Salon this week. In conversation with Brendan Matthews, she reflects on her “letters of complaint,” her habit of juggling multiple projects and the effects of translating Proust on writing emails.
New this week: Yannick Murphy’s latest novel The Call is out this week, as is Tom Scocca’s chronicle of expat life, Beijing Welcomes You (Both are written up in our big second-half preview). Also arriving is a new novel from Helen Schulman, This Beautiful Life, and Bed, the debut effort of David Whitehouse, which has already been a (minor) prizewinner in the UK, and which the publisher compares to A Confederacy of Dunces.
Out this week: A Strangeness in My Mind by Orhan Pamuk; The Mark and the Void by Paul Murray (whom our own Mark O’Connell interviewed today); Submission by Michel Houellebecq; Golden Age by Jane Smiley; The Hours Count by Jillian Cantor; Moon Up, Past Full by Eric Shonkwiler; and Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-Half 2015 Book Preview.