New this week: Stone Mattress: Nine Tales by Margaret Atwood; The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters; My Life as a Foreign Country by Brian Turner; Wallflowers by Eliza Robertson; On Bittersweet Place by Ronna Wineberg; Love Me Back by Merritt Tierce; In the Red by Elena Mauli Shapiro; and Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-half 2014 Book Preview.
“The presentation of himself as a damaged outsider, barely holding on, ups the dramatic ante, though it does seem at odds with the accomplished, balanced, commanding prose he appears able to muster with every sentence — not to mention his prestigious awards and teaching stints.” On Charles D’Ambrosio’s Loitering.
Looks like you might want to add Noah Hawley's new suspense novel Before the Fall to your reading list -- this review by the New York Times is effusive in its praise. Check out the other side of what a Times review can do and pair it with this review of Laura Tillman's The Long Shadow of Small Ghosts, which includes such lines as: "Is a book without judgment, a personal view and confidence in its validity still a book?"
“These were not like other poems: within their consistent 16-line armature they were turbulent, mad, feverish, cryptic, an unruly union of boppy jive-talk, and thorny quasi-Elizabethan diction. It was impossible to tell who was speaking, or to whom; poems ended in mid-syllable, bristled with random phrases in foreign languages, sported menacing-looking accent marks and Shakespearean contractions, were riddled with ampersands and ellipses.” At The Rumpus, a memory of falling in love with The Dream Songs (which happens to nicely complement a piece we published back in April).
"In real life, we are often so bound by social convention, but at the same time we all have secret, inexplicable aspects of ourselves. The parts that nobody else sees. In fiction, we are not bound by social convention, so the things that mystify and unsettle are allowed to rise to the surface." Salon interviews Laura van den Berg about her new novel, Find Me, which we covered in our Great 2015 Book Preview.
In an interview with Big Think back in 2008, David Remnick said of Philip Roth that the writer “would have been my father had Philip Roth not been a literary intellectual but rather an orthodontist in North Jersey.” At The New Yorker’s website, Remnick eulogizes Roth's work upon his retirement. (Keith Meatto did the same thing for us.)
With the help of Our Final Hour author Martin Rees, Cambridge will soon open a Centre for the Study of Existential Risk. The Centre will investigate the threats posed by “artificial intelligence, climate change, nuclear war and rogue biotechnology.” To my ears, this sounds an awful lot like Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute, which was memorably depicted in John Jeremiah Sullivan’s “Violence of the Lambs.”