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.
The good people over at The Rumpus have added another fantastic essay to their Albums of Our Lives series. This week, it’s Jonathan Kime who gives The Cure’s crushing, overwhelmingly melancholic 1989 album Disintegration the track-by-track treatment. Earlier iterations included Sufjan Stevens and Jason Isbell.
Nathaniel Philbrick answers the question Why Read Moby-Dick: “the level of the language is like no other,” but also “it’s as close to being our American Bible as we have.”
In case you missed it: JK Rowling just released a new Harry Potter short story on her own promotional website. Before you get too excited: the New Republic is less than sanguine, calling it “a marketing scam.” (Code for: not very good writing?) Which is not going to keep me from reading it anyway. Readers with more restraint might note that “You don’t have to be a Barthesian grad student to chafe at Rowling’s impulse to clarify the words on the page.” (Pair with our discussion of fan fiction and the afterlife of literature.)
In his 2001 treatise, Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper, Nicholson Baker lamented the wholesale transfer of newspaper archives to microfilm and the subsequent destruction of the originals (A recent essay here at The Millions argued that this is still a big problem). But, according to an article in The Missourian newspaper, microfilm may at least be far more permanent than easily corrupted digital archives. As executive editor Tom Warhover notes: “How about those perfectly preserved newspaper pages that have been digitally fossilized? They’re usually stored on hard drives, which can wear out quicker than your grandmother’s underwear.”
Amazon has given its entire front page over to a “letter” from CEO Jeff Bezos touting Dan Brown’s forthcoming gnostic thriller The Lost Symbol. It’s a mix of hyperbole and “thrilling” intrigue. My favorite excerpts: “This is one of the most anticipated publishing events of all time.” “The book remains so deeply under wraps that we’ve agreed to keep our stockpile under 24-hour guard in its own chain-link enclosure, with two locks requiring two separate people for entry.” Bezos goes on to promise that Amazon will deliver Kindle owners the book “wirelessly while [they] sleep.”