Recommended Listening: Margaret Atwood on her new novel – one of the most anticipated books of 2015, and the fall of realistic fiction. As she explains it, “when there’s perceived instability that’s happening you can’t write [a so-called realistic] novel and have people believe it.”
New releases this week include the much-hyped The Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume I. Also out in nonfiction is President Obama’s picture book Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters, Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (author of Seabiscuit), as reviewed by the New York Times, Siddhartha Mukherjee’s The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, and, for hip-hop fans, Jay-Z’s memoir Decoded.
For Buzzfeed Rachel Vorona Cote explores Eve Babitz and the white literary It Girl. “Readers, particularly literary women in their twenties and thirties, seem to be entranced by this child of Hollywood, who unabashedly relished her LA milieu and both chronicled and defended its paradoxes. But it’s still a milieu that flattens the city into one that is homogenous, wealthy, and white.” Pair with this essay about her novel Sex and Rage.
“Marta Reale, 10, her smile broad, her bangs blanched, made her way to a recreation center’s doorway through the dense crowd of other children, sunlit cigarette smoke and mothers fanning themselves on the seats of scooters. Above her, more children were hanging out the window, and above them, more were crammed onto a balcony.” Jason Horowitz files from Naples, Italy for The New York Times about a casting call for HBO’s upcoming adaptation of Elena Ferrante‘s My Brilliant Friend, noting that it “has already drawn 5,000 children, the vast majority of whom have never heard of Elena Ferrante, and injected a mix of hysteria and hope into parts of Naples that are poor in resources but rich in real characters.” Pair with this piece about The Neapolitan Quartet‘s scope and impact.
New Directions has just released The Complete Stories of Brazilian legend Clarice Lispector, newly translated by Katrina Dodson and edited by Benjamin Moser. There are eight stories in the collection that had never before appeared in English: “Covert Joy,” “Remnants of Carnival,” “Brasília,” “Beauty and the Beast or The Big Wound, “One Day Less” (one of the two final stories left in manuscript at Lispector’s death), “Gertrudes Asks for Advice,” “Another Couple of Drunks,” and “The Escape.” Check out Magdalena Edwards‘s Millions review of the collection.
When The Counselor (trailer here) opens in theaters this month, the occasion will mark a career milestone for Cormac McCarthy. The 80-year-old novelist has been writing original screenplays since the 1970s, but only one of them – a made-for-TV movie called The Gardener’s Son – was produced before this latest effort. Over at The Wall Street Journal, Alexandra Alter takes a look at the author’s involvement in the production of The Counselor, as well as its reception by several film industry insiders and devout McCarthy fans. (“McCarthy writing a sex scene is maybe not a great idea,” one of them says.)
Our own Emily Mandel may have been onto something with her “catastrophic” summer reading list; dystopia seems to be all the rage this summer. The WSJ sets Rick Moody’s The Four Fingers of Death in “a dystopian United States that is halfway between Kurt Vonnegut’s Player Piano and Woody Allen’s Sleeper.” The SF Chron calls Gary Shteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story “literature’s first dystopian epistolary romantic satire.” And later this year, as we noted this month, will be Salvation City by Sigrid Nunez, which focuses on a cultish community in the dystopian aftermath of a flu pandemic.