Can’t wait for Haruki Murakami’s new novel? You’re in luck: Slate just published an exclusive excerpt from the book. Sample quote: “No matter how quiet and conformist a person’s life seems, there’s always a time in the past when they reached an impasse. A time when they went a little crazy. I guess people need that sort of stage in their lives.” (You could also read Ben Dooley’s review of 1Q84.)
We’ve been discussing the changing nature of the English language a lot here this week (from the rise of public English to the acceptance of “like”), but if there is one thing that’s consistent in language, it’s the word “huh.” Linguists have studied 31 languages that all contain the interjection, making it one of the first universal words.
“There’s no doubt that Life A User’s Manual takes an approach to depicting reality that is very different from the standard realist novel, which we have been conditioned to believe is the best and most-preferred way of representing our world…Though not without its enlightening aspects, this conversation has generally fallen into a simplistic dichotomy, where realist writing is described as giving us the real world of everyday life, and anything other than realist writing is seen as directing its energies toward a vague something that no one cares to define very well.” A look at Oulipo and its legacy from Lauren Elkin and Scott Esposito, who recently wrote an Oulipo-themed Year in Reading for us.
BOMB Magazine sits down with Rebecca Makkai, author of Music for Wartime and The Hundred-Year House. “People love to underrate plot, because it makes them sound like they’re beyond it, like plot is best left to Danielle Steele.“ For more Makkai, check out our interview with her.
The Guardian offers a long, worthwhile profile of Dave Eggers, who suddenly is being considered and reconsidered seemingly everywhere. “The McSweeney’s empire… often gets characterised as a kind of cabal: a hip, young gang. [Eggers] and [wife Vendela] Vida, whose writerly circle includes Nick Hornby, Rick Moody, Jonathan Lethem and Joyce Carol Oates, tend to be seen as tastemakers. He thinks this is ridiculous.” (Thanks Emre!)
“There are people who believe that readers and writers—at least the right kind of readers and writers—are special snowflakes, existing on a more exalted plane than mere mortals. Book people are educated. They are privileged. They are brave enough to speak out when the emperor shows up naked. They sup on nectar from flowers grown on the sunny slopes of Mount Olympus, harvested by chiton-wearing MFA candidates.” Jennifer Weiner responds to bad Amazon reviews, book blogs, and elitist ” book people” in an essay for The New Republic. We especially enjoy the line about the chitons.
Two ways of looking at a book: “Had I been still more articulate, I might have said that there’s a special readerly pleasure in approaching a book as you would a box. In its self-containment lies its ferocious magic; you can see everything it holds, and yet its meagre, often hackneyed contents have a way of engineering fresh, refined, resourceful patterns. And Emily might have replied that she comes to a book as to a keyhole: you observe some of the characters’ movements, you hear a little of their dialogue, but then they step outside your limited purview. They have a reality that outreaches the borders of the page.”