Out this week: M Train by Patti Smith; Mothers, Tell Your Daughters: Stories by Bonnie Jo Campbell; 100 Years of the Best American Short Stories edited by Lorrie Moore; The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks; The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra; Death by Water by Kenzaburō Ōe; and Ghostly: A Collection of Ghost Stories by Audrey Niffenegger. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-Half 2015 Book Preview.
"Insanity, madness, obsession, math, objectivity, truth, science and art. These friends always impress me. They’re sculptors and tailors, not scientists or spies. I’ve chosen them with the peculiar attentiveness of a shell collector stupidly combining the overwhelming multitude of broken detritus to hold up one shell so beautiful that it finds its way into my pocket, lining my clothes with sand. And then another. Not too many, so that the sheer number could never diminish the value of one." On madness and genius with cosmologist Janna Levin.
Tana French pegs the cause of Ireland’s financial crisis on “a total disconnect between action and consequence.” For many Irish citizens since the collapse of the Celtic Tiger, she writes, “their whole sense of a world governed by coherent cause and effect, of their ability to have any agency in their own lives, came under attack.” Bonus: our own Edan Lepucki has previously written about French’s novels and plotting.
Cairo bookstore Bab Aldonia has installed a soundproof room for its customers in which, MobyLives reports, "anyone can go and scream in privacy for ten minutes at a time." An unsigned piece on the online magazine Cairoscene notes that working out one's frustrations within the safety of its walls "may prove just as effective as regime change." The stakes are considerably lower, but if you're a fan of indie booksellers, you'll also enjoy our piece about bookstores we have known, loved, and worked for.
n+1 provides a fascinating study of today's divisive concept of cultural elitism: "Today, though, it’s the bearers of culture rather than the wielders of power who are taxed with elitism. If the term is applied to powerful people, this is strictly for cultural reasons, as the different reputations of the identically powerful Obama and Bush attest. No one would think to call a foul-mouthed four-star general an elitist, even though he commands an army, any more than the term would cover a private equity titan who hires Rod Stewart to serenade his 60th birthday party."
This blog post from the NYT Magazine's culture editor Adam Sternbergh rounds up some some well known lit lovers' suggestions for some of those of you looking for some "red hot summer trash" to add to your reading list. Maud Newton and our own Garth Risk Hallberg both recommended Lonesome Dove, so that's going on my reading list for sure.
If you’re struggling to find a book deal, you might want to skip this story because it’ll be so demoralizing: a group of women are making a ton of money by publishing “dinosaur erotica” with titles such as Taken by the T-Rex, Ravished by the Triceratops, and Taken by the Pterodactyl. (Pretty lame, if you ask me, that that last title isn't spelled “Ptaken…”)