Flip through the blurbs on a recently published novel and you’re likely to come across a ton of stock phrases. Gary Shteyngart parodied this repetition — as well as other facets of the blurb-industrial complex — in a bit of improv last year. At The Morning News, Christine Gosnay writes about a poem that gave her a genuinely new reaction: the sense that she was “more than one person.”
Out this week: Mislaid by Nell Zink; A Hand Reached Down to Guide Me by David Gates; Odd Woman in the City by Vivian Gornick; The Life and Death of Sophie Stark by Anna North; The Jesus Cow by Michael Perry; Lifted by the Great Nothing by Karim Dimechkie; The Mountain Can Wait by Sarah Leipciger; England and Other Stories by Graham Swift; and War of the Encyclopaedists by Christopher Robinson and Gavin Kovite. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great 2015 Book Preview.
American music lost one of its best songwriters with the passing of Jason Molina last March. Molina was known for his work with Songs: Ohia and Magnolia Electric Co. As a tribute this week on Jimmy Kimmel Live, and as a way of spreading awareness for a May 11 concert in Molina’s memory, Band of Horses covered one of the late musician’s songs, “I’ve Been Riding With the Ghost.” (Original.)
New Yorkers: the Brooklyn Book Festival kicks off tomorrow evening, and you can get things started off right with this party hosted by Tumblr, Electric Literature, The LA Review of Books, and The New Inquiry. The following night, however, is when you should carve out some time to see The Greatest 3-Minute Book Stories — which will feature readings by Maris Kreizman (Slaughterhouse 90210), Alexander Chee (Edinburgh), Dan Wilbur (Better Book Titles), Christopher Beha (On Making Sentences Do Something), and yours truly (these Curiosities) among others.
“What made The Great Gatsby so great? Does everyone think he’s that great? Why?” Just in time for the back-to-school rush: essay questions from a teacher who didn’t finish any of the required reading (a.k.a. McSweeney’s).
“In no particular order, except one of hallelujah, here’s a necessarily partial list of some other living Korean American writers whose work or person, or both, I’ve had the great good luck of encountering”….you’ll have to read the interview for the lengthy list as well as the thoughts of four Korean American writers who gathered at the behest of R.O. Kwon to discuss the influence and impact of Alexander Chee. It’s full of beautiful insights from Kwon, Nicole Chung, Alice Sola Kim, and Matthew Salesses such as “Alex said he ‘wanted to plant that flag in the culture,’ and until he said that I don’t know if I’d thought about it as a reason to write. The need to exist in the canon, in the literary world. I found that very powerful, and very brave”. Chee’s newest book is an essay collection, How to Write An Autobiographical Novel, that we eagerly anticipated last month.
The ongoing Hachette vs. Amazon feud has writers and publishers up in arms, but according to the Society of Authors there are no heroes in publishing.