Out this week: The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman; The Kills by Richard House; When the World Was Young by Elizabeth Gaffney; Secrets of the Lighthouse by Santa Montefiore; The Scatter Here is Too Great by Bilal Tanweer; Ride Around Shining by Chris Leslie-Hynan; Painted Horses by Malcolm Brooks; The Liar’s Wife by Mary Gordon; The Dog by Jack Livings; Bluff City Pawn by Stephen Schottenfeld; Beneath the Neon Egg by Thomas E. Kennedy; 2 A.M. at The Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino; and Bad Feminist by Year in Reading alum Roxane Gay, who also came out with a novel a few months ago.
At the Book Bench, slides of Roland Barthes’ diaries from 1977 in their original, hand-written form: “His brilliance, which indelibly influenced literary theory, semiotics, social theory, and post-structuralism, can make him seem as distant as he is renowned. Yet the diary entries… reveal Barthes to be extraordinarily sensitive and relatable.” (via The Rumpus)
“What traits make Austen special, and can they be measured with data? Can literary genius be graphed?” The New York Times tackles the question of why, 200 years after her death, Jane Austen is still so popular. (One finding: the author“used intensifying words — like very, much, so — at a higher rate than other writers.”) See also: our interview with Curtis Sittenfeld, whose most-recent novel Eligible is the ultimate literary tribute, an adaptation of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
Wyvern is publishing a “Haunted” theme issue just in time for Halloween this year, and you have until mid-September to submit your work. “Haunting is in your bones,” Wyvern’s editors write. “You know it when you feel it, and you know it when you write it. That is what we’re looking for.”
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.
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.)
“Why do we spend so much time with stories whose endings we already know?” Derek Thompson writes about nostalgia and culture for The Atlantic, and his piece pairs well with Katy Waldman‘s Slate essay about “thinking that you’re not getting as much from reading as you used to.”