“The past fascinates me obsessively, I suppose, because it’s such a strange phenomenon. The past was the present at some point, and it was just as boring as the present. What makes it so important? What gives it that luminous, exalted quality where it becomes the past?” John Banville addresses these and many other heady questions in his new novel, The Blue Guitar.
New this week: Visitation Street by Ivy Pochoda, Fin & Lady by Cathleen Schine, and, available for the first time ever as ebooks, Roberto Bolaño's masterpieces 2666 and The Savage Detectives. There are many, many more anticipated books on offer in our big second-half preview, published this week.
When all is said and done, Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle series will consist of six published volumes. In light of the overwhelmingly positive reception for the epic Norwegian books – which have garnered heaps of praise around these parts – Archipelago Books is raising money to produce a special, hardcover edition of each installment.
In the June Atlantic, William Deresiewicz revisits that old favorite subject, the past and future of the Great American novel, in a review of two new books about the history of novels: The Dream of the Great American Novel by Laurence Buell and The Novel: A Biography by Michael Schmidt. (Dizzy yet? If not, consider nine other experts' opinions on the Great American Novel here at The Millions, for a round dozen.)
You’ve probably taken one of those quizzes that lets you find out the nature of your spirit animal. If so, you’ll enjoy this novel take on the form, which lets you see which animal from a famous poem you are. (For the record, this writer got Marianne Moore’s immortal fish.)
Recommended recommendations: "Eight Excellent Literary Podcasts for Your Morning Commute."