Out this week: Mislaid by Nell Zink; A Hand Reached Down to Guide Me by David Gates; Odd Woman in the City by Vivian Gornick; The Life and Death of Sophie Stark by Anna North; The Jesus Cow by Michael Perry; Lifted by the Great Nothing by Karim Dimechkie; The Mountain Can Wait by Sarah Leipciger; England and Other Stories by Graham Swift; and War of the Encyclopaedists by Christopher Robinson and Gavin Kovite. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great 2015 Book Preview.
If you read one piece on early computer scientist Alan Turing that’s come out in celebration of his 100th birthday last Saturday (if you were wondering about Friday’s Google Doodle) you might do very well to make it this one in the Atlantic on how his reading of Charles Darwin and the theory of evolution influenced his work and continues to shape the way we work with computers. It’s also about the limits of artificial intelligence.
Somehow we knew that Gary Shteyngart had a pretty interesting childhood. As Andy Borowitz explains in a review of Little Failure, the author’s new memoir, the elder Shteyngart regaled his son with “outlandish” stories, most notably “a sci-fi saga about a Jewish planet under constant attack by volleys of pork.” You can learn what the author likes to read today in his Year in Reading piece.
This essay on the proliferation of gossip in journalism is adapted from Joseph Epstein’s Gossip: The Untrivial Pursuit. In it, Epstein discusses the problem of “how straight-up, no-apologies public gossip has infected standard, or what once might have been called respectable, journalism.”
Need some more poetry in your life? Catch up on the year’s best collections. At Page-Turner, Dan Chiasson chooses nine books he predicts will be read in a hundred years, including Corridor by Saskia Hamilton and Go Giants by Nick Laird. FYI, I wrote a Curiosity about one of Chiasson’s picks.
“Poe’s verses illustrate an intense faculty for technical and abstract beauty, with the rhyming art to excess, an incorrigible propensity toward nocturnal themes, a demoniac undertone behind every page—and, by final judgment, probably belong among the electric lights of imaginative literature, brilliant and dazzling, but with no heat.” – Walt Whitman on Edgar Allan Poe’s significance, circa 1880.
Recommended Reading: This interview at The Paris Review with poet Morgan Parker: “I think personal narrative is really important for the individual and for a collective and for a people. I think it’s important to have agency in that narrative. There’s so much about contemporary life where one story is written upon the person by the outside world, by circumstance.”