We’ve written a fair bit about the By the Book series at the Times. You can read a selection of the best entries in a collection published by the paper. This week, the series featured another novel guest: Alan Gilbert, the conductor of the New York Philharmonic. Sample quote: “I don’t seek out books about music. I’ve read them over the years, but somehow, as a genre, it isn’t something I am specifically looking for.”
Infinite Jest may have “really taken on a foothold as the ‘novel of ideas’ of the late 20th and early 21st centuries” but now it’s also a “novel of legos,” courtesy of Kevin Griffith and his 11 year old son, Sebastian.
Cheers to Joshua Cohen for this early look at Péter Nádas’ mind-bending magnum opus, Parallel Stories. Our own review will appear sometime in 2014, when we finish reading. (But we can already say that all 1,100-page novels should begin, as this one does, with a dead body.)
“A continuation of a book that has proved very popular seldom is successful, and we cannot say that we think Alice’s adventures by any means equal to her previous ones.” The Guardian digs up its original review of Lewis Carroll‘s Through the Looking Glass.
Though Franzen would surely argue (in great excess of 140 characters) to the contrary, the excellent introductory essay from the latest issue of N+1 lauds Twitter for “the very last thing to have been expected from the internet: a renovation of the epigram or aphorism, a revaluation of the literary virtues of terseness and impersonality.”
“I thought it was going to be a short novel, that it was one person’s story. But I was wrong, because history is always shaping everything.” The New York Times reviews Marlon James‘s latest novel, A Brief History of Seven Killings, which we covered in our “Great Second-Half 2014 Book Preview.”
Jane Austen is a rare figure. Acclaimed as one of the most brilliant authors in modern history, she has a popularity that few of her peers can match, as evidenced by her posthumous sales and huge numbers of dedicated fans. How did her work hit the sweet spot of broad appeal and scholarly fame? In the WSJ, Alexander McCall Smith provides a theory. (h/t The Paris Review Daily)