Out this week: Fortune Smiles by Adam Johnson; Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh; A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin; The Incarnations by Susan Barker; The Automobile Club of Egypt by Alaa Al Aswany; Darkness the Color of Snow by Thomas Cobb; The Investigation by J.M. Lee; and Browsings by the Washington Post critic Michael Dirda. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great Second-Half 2015 Book Preview.
The “David Mamet Appliance Center” has some predictably abrasive customer service representatives. Here is Peter McCleery for McSweeney’s imagining a hilarious and existentially hopeless exchange between customer and technician. The Millions has even more to satisfy your fictitious-Mamet fix: an imagined symposium with Mamet, Francine Prose, and James Wood among others.
This past Wednesday Tracy K. Smith officially began her term as the new U.S. Poet Laureate. After adding her name to the guest book traditionally signed by poet laureates upon the start of their one year term, she read aloud from previously published poetry collections and introduced new work. Ron Charles from the Washington Post reports “[a]mong her most powerful new pieces were ‘found poems’ constructed from archival letters that African American veterans sent to President Lincoln asking for pensions they were owed.” Smith is the first poet laureate appointed by the new Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden. Stay tuned for her upcoming efforts to engage rural communities in poetry discussions.
The National Rifle Association is featuring a series of reimagined fairy tales on their website. The only difference? Way more guns. In the debut story, Hansel and Gretel don’t bemoan their lack of food since they had been taught from birth to hunt with guns for sustenance. No, it’s not yet April Fools’ Day.
“Literature can use secrecy as a device to ensnare readers, to pull the wool over their eyes or to reveal to them things that the characters can’t see. Whether large – businessman by day, serial killer by night; or small – where a character silently yearns for an ex-lover.” Eli Goldstone compiles a list for The Guardian of 10 novels whose characters are concealing big secrets, including a few lesser-knowns like Shirley Jackson‘s We Have Always Lived in the Castle and New Finnish Grammar by Diego Marani.
The North Carolina Literary Festival just announced its lineup for the 2014 engagement, and it’s stocked with Millions favorites. Among others: Junot Díaz, Scott McClanahan, Richard Ford, Ben Fountain, and William T. Vollmann. The festival will take place in Raleigh from April 3rd through April 6th.