In case you missed it: JK Rowling just released a new Harry Potter short story on her own promotional website. Before you get too excited: the New Republic is less than sanguine, calling it “a marketing scam.” (Code for: not very good writing?) Which is not going to keep me from reading it anyway. Readers with more restraint might note that “You don’t have to be a Barthesian grad student to chafe at Rowling’s impulse to clarify the words on the page.” (Pair with our discussion of fan fiction and the afterlife of literature.)
Out this week: Flâneuse by Lauren Elkin; Abandon Me by Melissa Febos; Lower Ed by Tressie McMillan Cottom; Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler; No Other World by Rahul Mehta; Harmless Like You by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan; and To Be a Machine by our own Mark O’Connell (who we interviewed recently). For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
Half-meme, half-myth, 'Slender Man' came to us from the same internet that brought LOLcat, doge, and Rule 34. After the surreal stabbing of a 12-year-old girl by two other children claiming they were acting on his behalf, this particular story has taken on a tragic resonance. In The Semiotic Review, Jeffrey Tolbert argues that Slender Man took hold because of the documentary nature of internet 'evidence'. As one Something Awful blogger put it, "Even if we don’t really believe in [Slender Man], we are cutting him out and sewing him together. We’re stuffing him with nightmares and unspoken fears. And what happens when the pictures are no longer Photoshops?" Very meta--and very scary, all over again.
It’s rare that a writer decides his new novel will be his last, but that’s exactly what Michael Faber has done with regards to his latest, which comes out this week. In the Times, he talks with Alexandra Alter about his decision, saying: “I felt that I had one more book in me that could be special and sincere and extraordinary, and that that would be enough.” It’s probably a good time to read our own Bill Morris on the history of literary retirements.