Peter Mendelsund writes for the Paris Review about how we see, or think we see, fictional characters. “Characters are ciphers. … We are ever reviewing and reconsidering our mental portraits of characters in novels: amending them, backtracking to check on them, updating them when new information arises.”
As part of World Book Night, a UK event designed to bring attention to books for adult readers, a number of famous authors have chosen books that they would recommend to readers. Stephen King's selection was Hash Kestin's small press effort The Iron Will of Shoeshine Cats. Published by upstart Dzanc Books in the U.S. in 2009, the jolt of publicity generated by the King selection means the book will now be coming out in the UK as well. Our own Emily Mandel wrote a review of the book in 2010, calling it "a gritty enchantment"
“And so despite my esteem for the high challenge of writing, for the reach of the writerly life, it’s not something anyone actually wants me to do. The American mind has made that very clear, it has said: ‘Be a specialised something — fill your head with the zeitgeist, with the technical — and we’ll write your ticket.’”
We recently linked to a new interview with Ian McEwan, whose latest novel The Children Act comes out next week. The LA Times has a full review of the new book, and the piece pairs well with Charles-Adam Foster-Simard's review of McEwan's Sweet Tooth. And of course there's Atonement, which comes up in a variety of Millions articles, from Michael David Lukas's essay on the polyphonic novel to Seth Sawyer's recent piece on food and reading.
“I love you, in its formal semantic meaning, is at once fetishized and sacrosanct; our familiarity with it as a speech-act is equally uneasy. Type ‘using I love you’ into Google and the first autocomplete result is ‘too much’; the second is ‘as a weapon.’” Google’s recently unveiled Smart Reply feature is saying “I love you” too much. Or is it just the right amount?
Recommended Reading: Laura Miller on Mario Vargas Llosa and cultural declinism.