“These sorts of connections are at the centre of nearly all time machine fiction. These novels usually draw attention to telling commonalities across historical eras, or between the past and the present. That gives an engaging puzzle quality to the books—we read seeking out the dropped clues that will shed light on the purpose of the parallel.” On fiction in which the plot takes place over multiple timelines.
Two hotly anticipated collections of stories are out this week: Nathan Englander’s What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank and Dan Chaon’s Stay Awake. Also new this week are Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers, Ramona Ausubel’s No One is Here Except All of Us, which she wrote about here recently, Dalkey’s new edition of The Recognitions by William Gaddis, and a new volume of William S. Burroughs’ letters.
Two writers dive deep into David Foster Wallace’s posthumous Pulitzer finalist novel, The Pale King. Seth Colter Walls takes a look at the tax classes the author took before he began writing, and Eliot Caroom checks the facts laid out in Wallace’s portrayal of the IRS. (Related: the opening lines of The Pale King, and a previously unpublished scene as well.)
Half a century ago, it would have been inconceivable to think that one day, the clack of typewriter keys would disappear from daily life. The rise of the personal computer, in Sadie Stein’s words, turned an everpresent sound into a “living anachronism.” She reflects on the value of the typewriter in a blog post for The Paris Review Daily. (It might also be a good time to read our own Bill Morris on typewriters and pen pals.)