Recommended Listening: Renata Adler’s Longform podcast on writing routines and the need for acquiring a sense of danger.
“There’s no doubt that Life A User’s Manual takes an approach to depicting reality that is very different from the standard realist novel, which we have been conditioned to believe is the best and most-preferred way of representing our world…Though not without its enlightening aspects, this conversation has generally fallen into a simplistic dichotomy, where realist writing is described as giving us the real world of everyday life, and anything other than realist writing is seen as directing its energies toward a vague something that no one cares to define very well.” A look at Oulipo and its legacy from Lauren Elkin and Scott Esposito, who recently wrote an Oulipo-themed Year in Reading for us.
Books by Friends, a semi-regular feature at The Atlantic, sees writer James Fallows recommend the works of authors he knows. This week, he praises a book on the history of flight, a prediction for the economy and a jeremiad on American politics by Gary Hart. You could also read our own Kevin Hartnett on Fallows and American decline.
The Toast has compiled a list of 18th century book titles and they’re almost funny enough to make us wish people still wrote books like them. Standout titles include Astonishment!!!, The History Of A Dog. Written By Himself, And Published By A Gentleman Of His Acquaintance. Translated From The French., and the mysterious The Polish Bandit; Or, Who Is My Bride?
Cheers to Joshua Cohen for this early look at Péter Nádas’ mind-bending magnum opus, Parallel Stories. Our own review will appear sometime in 2014, when we finish reading. (But we can already say that all 1,100-page novels should begin, as this one does, with a dead body.)