Year in Reading alumnus Alexander Chee writes about the impulse to write fiction, his first novel, and unpublished manuscripts in an essay for the Center For Fiction’s Why Fiction Matters series. “The first story I ever invented for public consumption was in a book report back in grade school. I had made a vow to read every book in my grade school library, and at some point, as I made my way through them, I remember very clearly understanding that there was simply no way my teacher would know about every book ever published—this was before the Internet—and so I decided I would make one up and see if she noticed.” Pair with this Millions piece, featuring six writers looking back on their first novels.
Google has added a Worldcat search to Google Books, allowing readers to look for books in their local libraries as well as on online bookstore sites. (via)From the Department of Clever Book Promotions: Random House is using a text-based (or interactive fiction) game to promote the release of The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters by Gordon Dahlquist.Steven Johnson’s forthcoming book The Ghost Map, “a thrilling historical account of the worst cholera outbreak in Victorian London,” sounds pretty terrific. To whet the appetite, he provides a brief list of the “best” plague books to the Wall Street Journal. (via).Just in time for Banned Books Week, check out some very cool banned books jewelry.
In her “Classic Russian Writers: For Teh Internets” column at McSweeney’s, KA Semënova “updates classics of Russian literature with modern technologies to see if the insights of those writers hold up today.” Her first two pieces explore Anton Chekhov’s “The Lady with the Dog” and Vsevolod M. Garshin’s “The Signal.”
“Sitting down to read The Actress, Amy Sohn’s newest novel, is even better than standing in line at the grocery store while the person in front of you disputes the price of a carton of orange juice, giving you extra time to read the tabloids. The Actress might be as licentious as a tabloid, but it is far more intelligently written. And, you probably won’t be reading it while standing in line inside a grocery store.”