“Maybe our anointed literary books just have to be earnest ones because earnest ones showcase that soupçon of intelligence. Maybe humor isn’t felt to indicate a genuine commitment to looking smart.” Year in Reading alum Lydia Millet talks with Jenny Offill about humor writing, what books are “anointed” as modern classics, and Millet’s new book, Mermaids in Paradise.
Ultra-niche magazines operate a bit differently than their larger and more mainstream cousins. Magazines like Donkey Talk, which caters exclusively to donkey hobbyists, aim for tiny audiences of a few hundred to a few thousand readers. They also cultivate their own jargon -- one magazine, The Mountain Astrologer, tosses the word “quincunx” around as casually as “email.”
Recommended (Long) Reading: This lengthy excerpt from the latest book in Karl Ove Knausgaard's My Struggle series. In it, Knausgaard is introduced to the literary world and stresses a great deal over his own claims to artistic merit: "Deep down, I was decent and proper, a goody-goody, and, I thought, perhaps that was also why I couldn’t write. I wasn’t wild enough, not artistic enough, in short, much too normal for my writing to take off. What had made me believe anything else? Oh, but this was the life-lie."
Mark Seal explores the ongoing legal battle between Harper Lee and Samuel L. Pinkus, the latter of whom is said to have “’engaged in a scheme to dupe Harper Lee, then 80-years-old with declining hearing and eye sight, into assigning her valuable TKAM [To Kill a Mockingbird] copyright to [Pinkus’s company] for no consideration,’ and then created shell companies and bank accounts to which the book’s royalties were funneled.”
"In an ironic twist, Super Terrain, a publisher in France, has created a new edition of Bradbury’s classic that actually requires extreme heat in order to be read." The prototype copy of Fahrenheit 451, which looks fully blacked-out until you apply heat, may be available to the general book-buying public in 2018. Check out: an essay about Ray Bradbury from our archives.
I’ve written before about By Heart, a series at The Atlantic in which authors write short pieces about their favorite passages in literature. This week, our own Edan Lepucki -- whose new novel you may have heard about thanks to Stephen Colbert -- writes about the metaphors in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. (FYI, Margaret Atwood wrote a Year in Reading entry for The Millions.)