This week saw the release of The Jaguar’s Children, a novel set on the Mexican border that draws on author John Vaillant’s experience in his wife’s home state of Arizona. At The Walrus, Sasha Chapman provides more background on Vaillant in her review of the book, which notes the importance of jaguars in Mexican symbology.
If you haven't seen Knopf art director Chip Kidd's humorous TED Talk yet, you should really get right on that. He makes a good "visual first impression," discusses the role of a book designer, the smell of an iPad, and does it all while wearing a "skanky mic."
"Our Aesthetic Categories, though, argues on behalf of aesthetic experiences that aren’t quite so awe-inspiring or rare. Sitting before your computers or walking the streets of your town, you don’t encounter beautiful things as frequently as you do interesting, momentarily arresting ones—and as for the sublime, when was the last time you experienced catharsis? Instead, [Sianne] Ngai considers our 'minor' aesthetic experiences, the ones that make up our day." In the era of adorkable and nerd chic, Slate looks at Our Aesthetic Categories: Zany, Cute, Interesting.
The Mississippi was integral to Mark Twain's fiction, so David Carkeet traced Twain's path on the river in the new issue of Smithsonian. "What would Samuel Clemens have made of the Riverwalk? He was a grown child who readily took a God’s-eye view of life on earth. He would have loved it." Pair with: Our essay on Twain's travel writing.
"Although I didn’t realize it at the time, I myself was no stranger to being othered." Over at The Literary Hub, Carla Bruce-Eddings recounts some reading lessons from her teenage self. For a bit of perspective from the other side, here's our own Nick Ripatrazone on teaching high school and college.
Out this week: Sweetland by Michael Crummey; Glow by Ned Beauman; Frog by the Nobel laureate Mo Yan; Watch Me Go by Mark Wisniewski; A Bad Character by Deepti Kapoor; Blood-Drenched Beard by Daniel Galera; Black River by S.M. Hulse; Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper; My Father’s Wives by the ESPN host Mike Greenberg; and Mobile Library by David Whitehouse. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great 2015 Book Preview.