In honor of our own Garth Risk Hallberg’s City on Fire (which stands at a hefty nine hundred pages), Bethanne Patrick has compiled a reading list of lengthy books at Lit Hub. You could also check out our interview with Hallberg.
Out this week: Brown Dog by Jim Harrison; a new paperback edition of Heidegger’s Poetry, Language, Thought; In the Night of Time by Antonio Muñoz Molina; a collection of Nick Hornby’s Believer columns; and a new biography of William and Dorothy Wordsworth.
Paula Fox, celebrated novelist and winner of the 1983 National Book Award (among other honors), died this week. Contributing to our Year in Reading series two years ago, Parul Sehgal said she couldn’t stop rereading Desperate Characters, perhaps Fox’s most popular book for adults. “It’s really a wallop of a book,” Sehgal wrote. “A barbed portrait of a marriage, not to mention a brilliant take on gentrification, white fears of black and brown people, the hostile insularity of the nuclear family, and how power reproduces and how power conceals itself.” (Bonus: Dominic Smith wants to send a scene from that novel into space.)
“For the first half of a new book, maybe you want your back against the wall. Gunslinger style. Nothing can sneak up on you except your own bad sentences,” Colson Whitehead said. He and four other authors discussed where they like to write in The New York Times. Bonus: See where our writers work.
As a literary technique, imitation is usually thought of as an amateur move, despite the number of classic works that began as overt acts of mimicry. At the Ploughshares blog, Anca Szilagyi comes up with several prompts for writers who want to imitate thoughtfully.
It’s a bumper crop of new books this week: Hari Kunzru’s Gods Without Men, Kathryn Harrison’s Enchantements, László Krasznahorkai’s Satantango (reviewed here), and Adam Levin’s Hot Pink. Also out this week are Alain de Botton’s Religion for Athiests and Jonathan Safran Foer and Nathan Englander’s New American Haggadah.
Renaissance Learning has released its annual report on what children are reading. The NYDaily News books blog takes offense at some of the more popular books named in the report, suggesting that kids and teens deserve to be challenged by better literature. The Huffington Post mines through the report to discover that American teenagers on average are still reading at or near the level of fifth graders.