“‘So your idea is to drive across America and write about it without talking to a single American?’ ‘Yes.'” Karl Ove Knausgaard travels North America as “a tongue-in-cheek Tocqueville” for the New York Times Magazine. Pair with his piece for The Millions, “The View from My Window is a Constant Reminder,” and with Jonathan Callahan‘s reading of Knausgaard’s My Struggle.
Interested in seeing unsettling characters — preferably with moustaches — looking for meaning in wacky postmodernist settings? Well, o ye of of bizarre inclinations, you’re in luck: Thomas Pynchon is rumored to be working with Paul Thomas Anderson. (He’s also coming out with a new book.)
“I was dropping out of college and had begun a novel and returned to New York. A bookstore in Manhattan announced a rare reading and signing by Anthony Burgess, a primary hero of mine at the time, for his autodidact’s erudition and braggadocio, and for how he’d gentrified a number of outre genres just by picking them up and mingling them with his erudition and braggadocio.” At the LARB, Jonathan Lethem remembers a formative reading by the author.
When The Beatles made Rubber Soul, the band probably didn’t realize it would inspire some of the greatest contemporary fiction. First, Haruki Murakami named his novel Norwegian Wood. Now, “Drive My Car” inspired his new short story. Bungeishunju published the story today, but English readers are still waiting on the translation. Until then, we can always listen to the album. Pair with: Our essay on the soundtracks behind books.
In The New York Times, Anne Lamott (of Bird by Bird fame) reveals the one book she’d recommend to President Obama. It might not surprise many readers of her memoir that her choice — Anti-California: Report from our First Parafascist State — is a nonfiction book by her father.
“In Colombia, Mexico, Nigeria, Mozambique, it’s the real thing, not magic, and the only way to tell these stories.” Man Booker International Prize finalist Mia Couto discusses the label “magic realism,” the death of Cecil the lion, his new novel Confession of the Lioness – one of the most anticipated books of 2015, and post-civil war Mozambique. Pair with Philip Graham’s Millions essay on Couto’s fiction.