“This is a huge generalization, but [American novels] have tended not to have all the elements that make it good for television, whether it’s too interior or there’s not enough action. The Brits tended to write more colorful stories rather than the darkness and struggle. Dickens and Trollope certainly knew how to write sequels, books that would make good ongoing series again and again. And the greatest love stories are in the Wuthering Heights and Pride and Prejudice. I don’t know what our equivalent is.” In a piece for The Atlantic Spencer Kornhaber wonders, “Is American Literature Too Dark for TV?“
Zachary Lazar talks to Mary Jo Bang about her radical translation of Dante’s Inferno: in an attempt to render the shock Dante caused by writing in conversational Italian rather than the conventional Latin, Bang translated Dante’s text in modern-day English adorned with references to American pop culture. A sample of the text is available online.
Whatever your thoughts on Will Self’s claim that the novel as we know it is dead, it’s important to keep in mind, as Daniel D’Addario helpfully illustrates, that we’ve heard this claim before. At Salon, he goes all the way back to 1902 to trace the legacy of a long-held fear.
Our humongous second-half preview will keep you busy planning your to-read list for the rest of the year, but there are some intriguing new books out this week too. Bonnie Jo Campbell’s novel Once Upon a River is now out, as is Edie Meidav’s Lola, California. (Don’t miss the remarkable essay Meidav wrote for us recently.) Also new is the latest from Benjamin Black (John Banville’s pen name), A Death in Summer, and Flip Flop Fly Ball, a collection of light-hearted and very clever baseball infographics from Craig Robinson (whose work also appears on his blog).
Richard Adams might be the only prominent author to make his name with a novel in which all of the main characters were rabbits. In The Guardian, he talks with Alison Flood about his classic Watership Down, explaining that he first came up with the plot while telling his children a story on a car ride.