Out this week: Book of Numbers by Joshua Cohen; The Jezebel Remedy by Martin Clark; Second Life by S.J. Watson; The Wolf Border by Sarah Hall; Language Arts by Stephanie Kallos; The Household Spirit by Tod Wodicka; Valley Fever by Katherine Taylor; and Rise by Karen Campbell. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great 2015 Book Preview.
“I’m trying to think of something really suitable to say. What do you think I should say? Look, you tell me what to say and I’ll say it.” That was Doris Lessing, who found out she’d won the Nobel Prize from a group of journalists who surrounded her when she was exiting a taxi. NPR has that great audio, plus other reactions of former Nobel literature laureates, including Toni Morrison, William Faulkner, and Mario Vargas Llosa.
Our own fearless editor-in-chief, Lydia Kiesling, admires Lessing, but felt rather differently about reading one of her most famous works, The Golden Notebook: “Among other things, she did an uncanny job of creating a malaise that was actually infectious. It oozed right off the page and into my own spirit.”
“Better to close your eyes and carry on with your own work, pretending the master carpenter doesn’t exist.” Karl Ove Knausgaard reads Michel Houellebecq’s novel Submission – one of the most anticipated books of 2015. Pair with this Millions essay on Knausgaard’s My Struggle.
Tired of waiting for George R. R. Martin to finish his next Game of Thrones novel, a software engineer has developed a neural network to write the book instead (via The Digital Reader). Pair with this consideration of how the HBO series is going off-book and breaking all the rules.
“What is the value of a book cover if fewer and fewer people shop at bookstores?” Nicholas Blechman wonders about the purpose of the book cover at The New York Times Book Review, but he also rounds up some of the best covers of 2014, including the design for Eimear McBride‘s A Girl is A Half-Formed Thing (Millions review here, McBride’s “Year in Reading” here).
Lit-mag Meanjin Quarterly is taking a cue from The Millions and kicking off a new series, The Best Australian Fiction of the 21st Century (so far).
for actors who’ve considered suicide/when the matrix isn’t enuf: Keanu Reeves, who some years ago raised hackles when he played Shakespeare’s melancholy Dane, has now written a book-length poem called Ode to Happiness that pokes fun at excessive melancholy. “I draw a hot sorrow bath/In my despair room,” it begins.