“We get the book adaptations we deserve… We need to re-tell these stories over and over because each generation sees them in a different way, needs different things from them. We tell these stories again and again, their survival over time proof of their intrinsic value. People are writing new Zeitgeist-y things all the time of course, but we return to classics because the stories have endured for a reason.” Sky Friedlander on the “Literary Period Piece.”
“This is what set Geeshie and Elvie apart even from the rest of an innermost group of phantom geniuses of the ’20s and ’30s. Their myth was they didn’t have anything you could so much as hang a myth on.” John Jeremiah Sullivan investigates more mysterious musicians in The New York Times Magazine. Bonus: You can listen to their music as you read. For more of Sullivan’s music journalism, read his piece on the origins of ska.
Out this week: Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami; The Purple Swamp Hen by Penelope Lively; Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane; House of Names by Colm Toibin; and Woman No. 17 by our own Edan Lepucki. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
Rumors of John Cheever’s death? Greatly exaggerated.HarperCollins sets out to test the proposition that there really is no such thing as bad publicity.BHL rips Valkyrie and Tom Cruise.Maud lauds Marlon James, author of The Book of Night Women.The New York Public Library names Millions guest contributor Sana Krasikov a finalist for its Young Lions award. Congratulations, Sana!More Intelligent Life interviews Jon Fasman, another Young Lion in waiting and author of The Unpossessed CityAlso at MiL: Lorin Stein wants a stimulus plan for book critics. (Hear! Hear!)Millions-fave Paul Theroux interviewed by the Boston Globe: “People say to me: How can I become a writer? I always say: one, leave home; two, tell the truth.”xkcd takes on the Kindle.”Jack Kerouac’s ‘lost’ novel The Sea is My Brother, which he wrote during his years as a merchant seaman, is to be published in its entirety for the first time.”Soon there will be a literary prize for everyone: “The St. Francis College Literary Prize is designed for a fourth published book of fiction.” ($50,000!)The strangest title shortlistVia Gwenda, the Wikipedia find of the week: “A book curse was the most widely-employed and effective method of discouraging the thievery of manuscripts during the medieval period.”The best reasoning yet for why the Kindle/”Text-to-Speech” uproar is dumb. Meanwhile, Amazon backs down.”I”, “we”, “two” and “three” the oldest English words.A resourceful group of Chinese enthusiasts creates bootleg translations of every issue of The Economist.Shark-jumping: “HarperCollins Pays Big Advance For A Book Of… Tweets“Stuff White Readers Should Like
Fancy a stroll? Flaneur, a new Berlin-based magazine, profiles one street per issue. It explores the culture, literature, people, and landmarks that make each street unique. The first is Berlin’s Kantstrasse. Pair with: Hyperreal Cartography, a tumblr of “real maps of places that exist but don’t.”
Recommended Viewing: This installment of The Paris Review’s “My First Time” series, in which poet Ben Lerner remembers “working under the sign of crisis” and attempting to find a publisher for his first book, The Lichtenberg Figures. A couple of Lerner-related pieces from The Millions: a review of his newest novel, 10:04, and a Year in Reading from back in 2014.
“The clash of genre values is fundamental to the novelistic experience. That’s how we ought to be thinking about our books. Instead of asking whether a comic book could be “as valuable” as King Lear, we ought to ask how the values of tragedy and romance might collide.” Joshua Rothman writes about the coming “collapse of the genre system” and our own Emily St. John Mandel‘s National Book Award short-listed Station Eleven for The New Yorker.