Recommended Reading: Marilynne Robinson on the functions of fear and Christianity in America in The New York Review of Books. You could also check out Alex Engebretson’s essay comparing Robinson’s Housekeeping to the Gilead novels.
Out this week: City on Fire by our own Garth Risk Hallberg (whom we interviewed yesterday); Thirteen Ways of Looking by Colum McCann; Upright Beasts by Lincoln Michel; The Mountain Shadow by Gregory David Roberts; Carrying Albert Home by Homer Hickam; And West is West by Ron Childress; and Eyes by William H. Gass. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-Half 2015 Book Preview.
“Werner isn’t surprised to pass the entrance exams easily. He’s more nonplused to find his head measured with calipers and his hair whiter than any of the 60-odd shades of blond on the examiners’ charts. It goes without saying that his eyes are also rated for their shade of blue.” Janet Maslin reviews Anthony Doerr’s new novel.
Leslie Jamison’s new essay collection is getting lots of plaudits, not least here at The Millions, where Ryan Teitman argued that Jamison manages to “meet her subjects in utter intimacy.” At the Tin House blog, Stephen Sparks interviews Jamison, who talks about the book, her “shame-seeking superpower” and her epigraph-cum-tattoo.
At the Philadelphia Inquirer, neurologists look at cases where serious brain injury has actually brought about higher levels of creativity in artists, particularly where linguistic ability is harmed. “Language is the bully of the brain,” [one neurologist] says. “It takes up its own space and if something else gets crowded out, too bad.” (via Book Bench)
It goes without saying that Hitler is a taboo subject in Germany, which is why it’s remarkable that a German novelist, Timur Vermes, has caused a sensation with his book about a time-travelling Fuhrer. In the Times, Janet Maslin reviews the first English translation of Look Who’s Back. You could also read Merve Emre on Ben Urwand’s book about Hollywood and the Nazis.
Recommended reading: The Guardian reports on Varlam Shalamov, a Russian author who spent 17 years in the harsh camps of the Kolyma gulag, wrote more than 140 short stories, and still claimed ““I hate literature. I do not write memoirs; nor do I write short stories. That is, I try to write not a short story but something that would not be literature.”