Year in Reading alumna Sarah Manguso writes about motherhood, writing, and the disintegration of the self in a moving essay for Harper’s. As she puts it, “I want to read books that were written in desperation, by people who are disturbed and overtaxed, who balance on the extreme edge of experience. I want to read books by people who are acutely aware that death is coming and that abiding love is our last resort.” Pair with Jaime Green’s Millions review of Manguso’s Ongoingness: The End of a Diary.
How do you write an accurate memoir without perpetuating stereotypes? Jesmyn Ward struggled with this when writing about absent black fathers and husbands in her book Men We Reaped. “I also had to figure out how much of the truth do I tell, how do I make the truth as balanced as I possibly can? How do I make these people as complicated and as human and as unique and as multifaceted as I possibly can? For me, that was the way I attempted to counteract some of that criticism,” she told The Rumpus.
One of my favorite Google Easter Eggs was the (now removed) instruction to “swim across the Atlantic Ocean” in order to get from New York to London. Today, however, that joke seems prophetic. Google, in conjunction with The University of Queensland and the Catlin Group, has created the Catlin Seaview Survey or, in other words, “an underwater variant of the Google Street View service.”
One of the biggest literary releases of the year is out today, The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides. Read the book’s opening here. Another literary heavy hitter out today is The Stranger’s Child by Alan Hollinghurst. One of Albanian writer Ismail Kadare’s masterpieces, The Palace of Dreams, is now back in print in English, and Blake Butler’s memoir Nothing: A Portrait of Insomnia is now on shelves.
Robert Darnton at the New York Review of Books considers the feasibility of creating a National Digital Library: “I know: the devil can cite Jefferson. Anyone can cull through the papers of the Founding Fathers in order to find quotations in support of a cause. But I can’t resist.”
“Ever since, I have added a new layer of rules for my casual sex partners, especially when I end up in their space: I ask them for a book prior to exiting. I might phrase it more diplomatically, saying ‘I just want to read something on my train-ride back,’ or ‘I just finished my last book and I have been looking for the next one.’ Via this simple action I can estimate a lot more on a broad scale of very personal information and variation of taste than what I could possibly collect through hours of post-coital, emotional interrogation.” Seven books Elias Tezapsidis acquired through casual sex.
Out this week: Barkskins by Annie Proulx; Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty by Ramona Ausubel; I’m Just a Person by Tig Notaro; The Course of Love by Alain de Botton; and The Girls by Emma Cline (which we reviewed). For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great 2016 Book Preview.