This week, David Mitchell (author of Cloud Atlas and the forthcoming The Bone Clocks) is releasing a new short story over 280 tweets (which you can read here). Form follows content, he explains, since his narrator is a teenager high on his mother’s Valium. Mitchell joins good company: Teju Cole, Junot Diaz, and other notables have tried their hand with this strange new form. Pair with: a stroll down memory lane with some beloved authors’ very first tweets and their best.
Wolf Hall, you may have heard, is now a TV show, which you can watch on PBS (in the US) and BBC Two (in the UK). Is it good? According to Sonia Saraiya, the adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s novel is eminently worth watching, “a rare adaptation from book to screen that makes the most of what the visual medium can provide.” You could also read our interview with Mantel.
Here at The Millions, we tend to focus on translation as a literary form, which often leads to debates over how much a translator can change the meaning of a text. However, the majority of translation in the world is far more functional, as it is in the case of basic European bureaucracy. In The Nation, Benjamin Paloff takes a broader look at movements from one language to another. Pair with: Barclay Bram Shoemaker on translating Mo Yan’s Frog.
“Soldiers eat beef teriyaki and chicken cavatelli M.R.E.s in a war zone where ‘armored ruins’ line the roads, ‘charred corpses scattered in among the blasted metal’; and sniper fire and I.E.D. ambushes are a constant threat: ‘the chaos out there, the crazy Arabic writing and abu-jabba jabber, the lawless traffic, the hidden danger and buzz and stray bullets and death looming from every overpass.'” Michiko Kakutani reviews Roy Scranton’s War Porn for The New York Times. Here’s an old review from The Millions that shares a bit of Scranton’s lingering sentiment regarding the war.
New this week is George R.R. Martin’s latest Song of Ice and Fire installment, A Dance with Dragons. Also hitting shelves: Donald Ray Pollock’s The Devil All the Time and Dana Spiotta’s Stone Arabia (Don’t miss our preview with tons more upcoming books.) Jesse Ball, whose The Curfew has just come out, also has a new collection, The Village on Horseback. Jennifer Weiner’s new book, Then Came You, is out, as is the first issue of McSweeney’s new food magazine, Lucky Peach. Out in paperback: Allegra Goodman’s The Cookbook Collector.
The recent release of the transcription and accompanying CDs of Jacqueline Kennedy’s interviews with Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. in 1964, less than four months after her husband’s assassination, have left a writer wondering why nobody talks about Jackie O for who she really was – a mean girl.
“They found, unsurprisingly, that blocked writers were unhappy. Symptoms of depression and anxiety, including increased self-criticism and reduced excitement and pride at work, were elevated in the blocked group; symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder, such as repetition, self-doubt, procrastination, and perfectionism, also appeared, as did feelings of helplessness and ‘aversion to solitude’—a major problem, since writing usually requires time alone.” On the causes of writer’s block.