Out this week: The Children Act by Ian McEwan; The Dog by Joseph O’Neill; Barracuda by Christos Tsiolkas; Hold the Dark by William Giraldi; Prelude to Bruise by Saeed Jones; Faithful and Virtuous Night by Louise Glück; Gangsterland by Tod Goldberg; Happiness: Ten Years of n + 1; Neverhome by Laird Hunt; and Station Eleven by our own Emily St. John Mandel. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great Second-half 2014 Book Preview.
The “David Mamet Appliance Center” has some predictably abrasive customer service representatives. Here is Peter McCleery for McSweeney’s imagining a hilarious and existentially hopeless exchange between customer and technician. The Millions has even more to satisfy your fictitious-Mamet fix: an imagined symposium with Mamet, Francine Prose, and James Wood among others.
It’s notoriously difficult to figure out how to make a living as a freelance writer. The process forces the writer to learn the finer points of negotiation. At the Ploughshares blog, Steph Auteri writes about the “abstract mathematics” of her freelance career, presenting a list of everything she considers before taking on an assignment. Pair with: our own Nick Ripatrazone on teaching the business of creative writing.
Slate books and culture columnist Laura Miller looks at what this year’s bestseller list tells us about 2017. One of her conclusions, “2017 was the year that the very concept of a best-seller became even more dubious.” After reading her analysis, check out our Year in Reading lists, whose authors found joy in reading and viewed it as one of the few good things of this year, even if the bestsellers of the year didn’t reflect those feelings.
Since 2010, Russian publishing professionals estimate that “as many as 20% of [all] Russian book stores have closed.” Each year, they fear, the number of “dedicated readers in Russia declines by 2%.” To remedy these trends, the Russian government has recently approved a $100 million stimulus package for the nation’s book industry – running the gamut from investment in new bookstores, to tax incentives for small presses, and also to more international book fairs – to be dispersed through 2018. Recently, Emily Parker noted in The New York Times that Russia’s literary problems might be blamed on its lack of “good protest literature.”
Interested in seeing unsettling characters — preferably with moustaches — looking for meaning in wacky postmodernist settings? Well, o ye of of bizarre inclinations, you’re in luck: Thomas Pynchon is rumored to be working with Paul Thomas Anderson. (He’s also coming out with a new book.)