“His books are not only obviously produced by an obsessive film buff (as evidenced by one wry recurring trick, the dates in brackets that follow even citations of celluloid ephemera), they often seem to want to be movies, as shown by another signature device, the way his protagonists – from the 1890s European spies and 1950s New Yorkers in the interwoven narratives of his debut, V. in 1963, all the way to Inherent Vice and Bleeding Edge in 2013 – break anti-naturalistically into song like characters in musicals.” An argument that Thomas Pynchon writes fiction tailor-made for the cinema.
Just because Beowulf‘s influence on Tolkien isn’t news doesn’t mean the publication of J.R.R. Tolkien‘s translation of the epic poem this week isn’t exciting. But while Tolkien’s name alone may be enough for the serious fan, Ethan Gilsdorf at the New York Times has given general readers an introduction to the history of the new translation complete with some insight into Tolkien’s love of the epic poem.
Out this week: Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler; The Mandibles by Lionel Shriver; As Good as Gone by Larry Watson; Disappearance at Devil’s Rock by Paul Tremblay; My Last Continent by Midge Raymond; and The World Without Us by Mireille Juchau. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great 2016 Book Preview.
At Brain Pickings, Maria Popova shares a series of drawings (produced in collaboration with Debbie Millman) that map the regions of the US according to literary quotations. Thoreau, perhaps not surprisingly, gets the East Coast with a quote from Walden, while Year in Reading alum Jeffrey Eugenides represents the Midwest.
Eliza Griswold’s got a great essay up on The Poetry Foundation’s website. It’s about poetry and reportage in Lampedusa, the largest island in the Italian Pelagie chain.