There’s an old story that states that Marcel Proust met James Joyce for five unremarkable minutes at a dinner party. Artistically significant though it may have been, it had less geopolitical significance than another famous meeting a hundred years earlier, in which Napoleon went out of his way to pay a visit to Goethe. As a new biography of the French emperor details, Napoleon couldn’t understand why Goethe admired Shakespeare.
New this week: The State We’re In by Ann Beattie; Who Do You Love by Jennifer Weiner; The Beautiful Bureaucrat by Helen Phillips; The Race for Paris by Meg Waite Clayton; In The Language of Miracles by Najia Hassib; Still Life Las Vegas by James Sie; and Subway Stations of the Cross by Ins Choi. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great Second-Half 2015 Book Preview.
If you’re a fan of Tom Drury (and if you aren’t–what’s wrong with you?), you’ll be excited to know that the new short film based on his short story “Path Lights” is now online at the David Lynch Foundation. The film was directed by Zachary Sluser, and stars John Hawkes.
“Every year, as Halloween draws near, I get to thinking about what makes books scary,” writes Ben Dooley in his introduction to Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves. It’s a book that “’gets’ existential horror,” Dooley claims. Intrigued? Well be sure to check out not only his review of the book, but also our interview with its author.
Last month, while traveling through Des Moines, Iowa, President Barack Obama had the chance to interview one of his favorite authors: Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Marilynne Robinson. The first part of the conversation was just published in the NYRB and the second part will appear in the next issue. Obama, who is a big fan of Robinson, had recently quoted her in his eulogy for Reverend Clementa Pinckney, one of nine victims in the shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
“Magic I think for me is kind of personal. Like, as soon as magic is in play, then I am given permission to imagine a different world, one in which magic things might happen—one where maybe I get some magic to wield if I’m lucky. Where cool stuff might happen at any given moment, cool stuff you wouldn’t even guess at. And for as long as the story holds, I’m kind of living in that world.” John Darnielle talks with Colin Winette about E.R. Eddison‘s The Worm Ouroboros, reading high fantasy and writing Wolf in White Van.