“Riordan’s books prompt an uneasy interrogation of the premise underlying the ‘so long as they’re reading’ side of the debate—at least among those of us who want to share Neil Gaiman’s optimistic view that all reading is good reading, and yet find ourselves by disposition closer to the Tim Parks end of the spectrum, worried that those books on our children’s shelves that offer easy gratification are crowding out the different pleasures that may be offered by less grabby volumes.” In an essay for The New Yorker, Rebecca Mead considers questions about what children should be reading through the lens of the Percy Jackson series.
Thanks to her new book, Lydia Davis is getting a lot of well-deserved attention, including an interview with Salon this week. In conversation with Brendan Matthews, she reflects on her “letters of complaint,” her habit of juggling multiple projects and the effects of translating Proust on writing emails.
At Page-Turner, our own Mark O’Connell notes “a thrilling obscenity” in the works of Gonçalo M. Tavares, a Portuguese writer whose recent novel, Jerusalem, depicts a character with schizophrenia. A lesser-known symptom of the illness, apparently, is a tendency to treat inanimate objects like conscious (and social) beings. (We wrote about Tavares back in March.)
“She didn’t even want to be anything. She just wanted to be able to sit in a room and not feel tortured by it, which is sort of the human condition in general. Eileen isn’t dreaming of leaving home and making it in the big city on Broadway. She just wants to go and eat a banana, you know?” Ottessa Moshfegh on her new novel, Eileen, for The Rumpus.
Our own Bill Morris (the man Michiko Kakutani once compared favorably to John Updike) is hitting the road in support of his novel Motor City Burning, and you can catch him now as he swings through the South before heading to the Midwest. Elsewhere, see what Detroit’s hometown paper learned from Bill about a novel that mines the city’s fractious history.
Recommended Viewing: Toni Morrison spoke with Junot Díaz at the New York Public Library last week, and the organizers were good enough to record the entire conversation and put it online. The talk begins at the 40:09 mark, so you can either fast forward or click this link right here.