“His books used to be ink on paper; now we have to squint through the cloud of the Ellroy Phenomenon.” And the James Ellroy Phenomenon looks like it will only continue: the author has announced plans for a second L.A. Quartet, the first of which, Perfidia, comes out next week.
At My Life and Thoughts, Elif Batuman–in delightfully Elifish style–describes her first book travails and unveils a preliminary sketch for the cover of her forthcoming first book The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them, drawn by New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast.
In TNR, Ruth Franklin attempts to debunk the “strangely antiquated definition of American writing” posited in Dalkey’s Best European Fiction anthology. (via)
For everyone who harbors a deep and mildly-embarrassed love for GIFs in the significant, non-linguistic part of their brains that finds repeated facial expressions far more memorable than words: Ploughshares’ series on classic novels (1984, The Catcher in the Rye, The Scarlet Letter, The Hobbit) will have you laughing and building your cocktail-party knowledge all at once.
“[C]hildren often prefer the factual over the fantastical. And a growing body of work suggests that when it comes to storybooks, they also learn better from stories that are realistic. For example, preschool-aged children are more likely to learn new facts about animals when the animals are portrayed realistically as opposed to anthropomorphically.” Two new studies suggest that where learning is concerned, realism trumps fantasy in children’s books. Which is as good a time as any to ask our own Jacob Lambert‘s question: Are picture books leading our children astray?
“The fact that Harry Potter midnight release parties were the event to go to as a teen was completely unprecedented in geek culture. You can draw a dotted line to the mainstreaming of geek culture through Harry Potter.” Twenty years after the publication of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, The Huffington Post asks authors, editors, and publishers how Rowling’s juggernaut changed reading and the world of Young Adult fiction. Then see this counterpoint from our own pages last year: There Is No Such Thing as the Young Adult Novel.
“As a rare book collector and head of the English department at Ayer-Shirley Regional High School, Eleanor Capasso said that being sent what she believes could be a first edition of a Jane Austen novel felt a lot like winning the golden ticket to visit Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.” Find out more about how a teacher received a two-hundred-year-old copy of Persuasion. If you’re looking for rare books, our guide has got you covered.