As part of the latest chapter of the McConnaissance, Matthew McConaughey has been tipped to star in The Stand, the upcoming adaptation of Stephen King’s famous novel. McConnaughey is expected to play Randall Flagg, the malevolent sorcerer and necromancer. In the words of director Josh Boone, who also directed The Fault in our Stars, the movie will be “the Godfather of post-apocalyptic thrillers.” This might be a good time to read our own Lydia Kiesling on growing up with Stephen King.
Whatever your thoughts about the situation in Ukraine, you’ll feel for Year in Reading alum David Bezmozgis, who’s been writing a novel for the past four years that takes place in Crimea. After nearly a half-decade in which few people he talked to even knew where Crimea was, recent events shone a spotlight on the place, which the author had thought of as “locked in a dismal kleptocratic stasis.” (You could also read our interview with the author.)
Beginning with the same premise—one can only read so many books in a given lifetime—two authors write very different articles: Maria Bustillos lists the recommendations of George Orwell, Henry Miller, and John Waters that she’s followed in an effort to maximize her short reading life. Marc Wortman wonders if authors are being paid by the page and, given our short lives, whether we should even bother with the behemoth volumes coming out recently.
Doubleday pulled a Beyonce and published Colson Whitehead’s latest book, The Underground Railroad, a month early. Oprah chose Whitehead’s book for her book club, and Doubleday “secretly started shipping out 200,000 copies in anticipation of the announcement.” You can also read a review from Michiko Kakutani at the New York Times.
To commemorate publication of the 65th anniversary edition of Raymond Queneau’s Exercises in Style, New Directions has asked ten contemporary writers to “create new exercises in homage to Queneau.” Over at The Rumpus, you can check out Jonathan Lethem’s “Cyberpunk” exercise, as well as one of Queneau’s twenty eight “never before translated” exercises making its English debut in the new edition. Bonus: read our own Mark O’Connell on the “radical claims about the relationship between form and content” in Queneau’s writing.
“Art isn’t a footrace. No one comes in first place. Greatness is not a universally agreed-upon value. … America isn’t one story. It’s a layered and diverse array of identities, individual and collective, forged on contradictory realities that are imbued with and denied privilege and power. Our obsession with the Great American Novel is perhaps evidence of the even greater truth that it’s impossible for one to exist. As Americans, we keep looking anyway.” Cheryl Strayed and Adam Kirsch discuss the Great American Novel in this week’s New York Times Bookends. For a slightly different take, consider the 9 novels our experts chose as the Greatest American novels, from Moby-Dick to The Godfather.
A San Francisco prisoner wanted to read werewolf erotica so badly that he took it to state court. The case has brought up problems with prison censorship and calls to mind Avi Steinberg’s memoir, Running the Books: Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian (here’s our review.)