Look, it’s hard being the bloodthirsty kingpin of a multinational drug smuggling cartel. Apparently Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán has been feeling a bit sorry for himself post-capture, so what did Eduardo Guerrero, head of Mexico’s prison systems, think would cheer him up? He brought him a copy of Don Quixote.
“Hell-bent on researching the most microscopic pieces of a layered family history, Charles Ward burrows deeply into Old Providence. Lovecraft’s meticulous scene-setting is answered in the graphic novel with Ian Culbard drafting stately mansion exteriors and farmhouses in simple, slender strokes and never lending them more than two or three tones from his understated color palette.” On a graphic novel treatment of The Case of Charles Dexter Ward.
Graywolf Press’s Poem of the Week is “Don’t You Wonder, Sometimes?” by David Bowie-fan Tracy K. Smith. She writes, “Bowie will never die. Nothing will come for him in his sleep / Or charging through his veins.” Pair with Sophia Nguyen’s Millions review of Smith’s new memoir, Ordinary Light.
Coulrophobes take heed! You’re not scared of clowns because they’re inherently dark, or even because you caught a few minutes of Stephen King’s IT on television. In fact, you probably owe your fear of clowns to a fellow named Joseph Grimaldi, the “Homo erectus of clown evolution.” When this progenitor died in 1837, a young Charles Dickens “was charged with editing his memoirs.” The resulting portrait, relays Linda Rodriguez McRobbie, was what ultimately “water[ed] the seeds in popular imagination of the scary clown.”
Out this week: The Familiar, Volume 1 by Mark Z. Danielewski; The Green Road by Anne Enright; The Book of Aron by Jim Shepard; The Edge Becomes The Center by DW Gibson; The Daemon Knows by Harold Bloom; How to Start a Fire by Lisa Lutz; Girl at War by Sara Novic; The Subprimes by Karl Taro Greenfeld; and City by City, an essay collection edited by Keith Gessen and Stephen Squibb. For more on these books and other new titles, go read our Great 2015 Book Preview.
"Women writers and writers of color don’t really have the luxury of being known simply as writers. There’s always a qualification," Roxane Gay writes for The Nation. She ponders what it means to be a "black woman writer" and concludes that we should view diversity as a search for "urgent, unheard stories."