Those of you with more than a passing familiarity with the Brothers Grimm will know that classic fairy tales were often dark and macabre. They’re considerably more frightening than the sanitized versions we read to our children today. At Salon, Maria Tatar talks to Laura Miller about her translation of The Turnip Princess, a new collection of previously undiscovered fairy tales. Sample quote: “There isn’t that strict division of gendered labor that you find in the Grimms.” You could also read Kirsty Logan on the trouble with fairy tales.
“We note that there is a great lack of schoolbooks among secondary pupils, due to their weak purchasing power. The books currently in circulation will remain in use, but for purposes of ‘complementary consultation.’” Mozambique’s Education Minister has announced that with the start of the 2017 academic year, its school system will adopt a single book for each subject taught in the country’s secondary schools.
Mark McGurl author of the book that got everyone talking about MFA programs, The Program Era, mounts a spirited defense against Elif Batuman’s much discussed review of the book. Among his ripostes: “One can be all for the deflation of liberal pieties without being a gleeful ignoramus about it, as though literary journalism needs its own Ann Coulter.” Zing!
It’s a big week for new books. Amitav Ghosh’s River of Smoke is now out, as is Lost Memory of Skin by Russell Banks, Chango’s Beads and Two-Tone Shoes by William Kennedy, Luminous Airplanes by Paul La Farge, and The Funny Man by John Warner, who recently appeared in these pages. Philip Roth’s American Trilogy is getting the Library of America treatment. (Capsule previews of all of the preceding titles are available here, incidentally). New in non-fiction is Stephen Greenblatt’s The Swerve: How the World Became Modern and Susan Orlean’s Rin Tin Tin. And out in paperback: none other than Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom.
Recommended Reading: Laura Gianino at The Rumpus on seeing The Boss, Bruce Springsteen: “It felt silly to me, as a Springsteen fan of approximately four hours, to tell Keith that I felt Bruce understood me, too, but I realized somewhere in the middle of the show that Bruce was the same age when writing those songs as Keith and I were as we listened. Maybe I was just caught up in the moment. But if that were true, so was everyone.”
In the latest issue of The New York Review of Books, Jean Strouse brings us inside John Singer Sargent’s inner circle. The exhibition, “Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends,” is on view at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art until October 4th. You could also read Edra Ziesk’s piece on what makes a friend.
Parks and Recreation star Amy Poehler has a new book on shelves this week, as does William Gibson. Also out: The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber; Hiding in Plain Sight by Nuruddin Farah; a new collection of Maeve Binchy’s Irish Times columns; and a hardcover compilation of entries in the NYT’s By the book series. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great Second-half 2014 Book Preview.