New this week: Academy Street by Mary Costello; The Children’s Crusade by Ann Packer; After the Tall Timber by Renata Adler; Recipes for a Beautiful Life by Rebecca Barry; A Slant of Light by Jeffrey Lent; The Water Museum by Luis Alberto Urrea; All Involved by Ryan Gattis; Odysseus Abroad by Amit Chaudhuri; The Language of Paradise by Barbara Klein Moss; and Ashes in My Mouth, Sand in My Shoes and I Refuse, two books by Per Petterson. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great 2015 Book Preview.
“I’m a total database nerd. In college I worked as a troubleshooter for a database of medical research, trying to predict and prevent mistakes in the data entry process to avoid screwing up the records. Is anything more satisfying than a successfully written query delivering precisely the required results? It’s so much more direct than writing fiction. A query either works or it doesn’t.” Steve Himmer’s Nervous Breakdown self-interview.
"Bigger than the Zuckerberg Bump, bigger even than the Colbert Bump or the Oprah Bump—arguably the most historic bump in English publishing is the Sam Weller Bump." A look at the surprising and overwhelming success of Dicken's first novel, The Pickwick Papers, from The Paris Review.
It’s a source of hair-pulling anxiety for artists of all kinds: how can you hold down a day job yet commit yourself to your art? It’s undoubtedly possible, but it’s daunting enough that apprentice writers often need advice on how to do it. Herewith, six artists (including writers Catherine Lacey and Shane Jones) explain how they pull it off. Related: Cathy Day on making a living as a writer.
We tend to assume that life stories, in mentally healthy people, are concrete things, assembled from events that are hard to twist or distort. Yet all of us shape our own stories in ways we can’t always see. At The Atlantic, Julie Beck explores the idea that life stories, as we construct them, form integral parts of our personalities.
Here are three pieces about horror in honor of 2012 being the centenary of Bram Stoker’s death. 1) Yazan al-Saadi’s fascinating survey of Arabic horror cinema, which is not only “about what can frighten most Arab audiences, [but is] … also a chronicle of the abnormalities and dysfunctions lacing the underbelly of Arabic cinema as a whole.” 2) Ed Park’s essay on “the audacious enterprise” of Rosemary’s Baby. 3) Stuart Kelly’s entreaty for modern writers of horror to “raise its game.”