“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.
David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks now has an official release date, as well as ample pre-publication details to whet your appetite. News of the book, which will be available in September, also came with the announcement of a new three-book deal with Random House.
Portland-based Publication Studio is hosting a whirlwind series of events in New York next week. They kick off the weekend with an evening mixer at the Museum of Modern Art on Thursday, April 19; continue with a conversation between landscape architect Diana Balmori and PS co-founder Matthew Stadler at Printed Matter, on Friday, April 20th; and end with a lavish sit-down dinner, cooked by Ben Walmer of the Highlands Dinner Club in the Harlem speakeasy where HDC got its start, on Saturday, April 21.
“In 1865, Karl Marx confessed that he considered his chief characteristic ‘singleness of purpose,’ and that his favorite occupation was ‘bookworming.’ Five years later, Oscar Wilde wrote in an album called ‘Mental Photographs, an Album for Confessions of Tastes, Habits, and Convictions’ that his distinguishing feature was ‘inordinate self-esteem.'” Over at The New Yorker, take a look at how Marcel Proust’s questionnaires inspired a generation of question-by-by-question introspection.
After passing through the House, a new bill establishing a four-year term limit for the state’s Poet Laureates is set to reach the Florida governor’s desk in the near future. The Sunshine State has been without a Poet Laureate since Edmund Skellings died in 2012.
Aspiring writers who’ve long dreamed of critical acclaim will no doubt be slightly miffed at Tana French’s admission that her writing “happened by accident.” As the former actress explains to The Guardian, writing In the Woods was a subconscious, almost involuntary experience: “I thought I could never write a proper book, I’d never done it before. But I thought I could write a sequence. Then I had a chapter.”
Out this week: The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen; Amiable with Big Teeth by Claude McKay; Autumn by Ali Smith; A Separation by Katie Kitamura; 300 Arguments by Sarah Manguso; The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso; Pachinko by Min Jin Lee; and Universal Harvester by John Darnielle. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
Today’s edition of Book Reviews Worth Reading: Kathryn Schulz‘s first official outing as the book critic for New York Magazine (on the late Anthony Shadid‘s House of Stone) and Anti-Matter author Ben Jeffery‘s take on Houellebecq’s The Map and the Territory. (While you’re at it, you might as well read Elaine Blair nailing Houellebecq at the NYRB (in the second-best possible way)…or our own Bill Morris‘ défense.