“Lovecraft Country doesn’t just race along, it tears, demanding that you keep turning its pages without interruption. I read the second half of the book while walking in my neighborhood, holding the book with one hand and clutching bags of groceries in the other, and then finishing up in bed with a small LED lamp after my wife had fallen asleep. It’s one of those books.” Cory Doctorow reviews Matt Ruff’s Lovecraft Country at BoingBoing.
New this week: The Tusk That Did the Damage by Tania James; B & Me: A True Story of Literary Arousal by J.C. Hallman; The Dream of My Return by Horacio Castellanos Moya; The Last Word by Hanif Kureishi; A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara; and The Discreet Hero by Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great 2015 Book Preview.
“In Proust, the rhythm, the phrasing, the movement of the sentence, even the grammar—it’s all so complex that it would be almost impossible to repeat anyone else’s work. Because of that I’m all the more aware of the differences, and of how admirable Scott Moncrieff’s work often is.” George Plimpton interviews Richard Howard about translating Remembrance of Things Past, for the Summer 1989 issue of The Paris Review. The interview was reissued to mark Richard Howard’s birthday, who turns eighty-six today.
Over at Electric Literature, John Freeman profiles Year in Reading alumnus Ben Lerner, newly minted MacArthur genius and author of two novels in which “the political opens a path for the personal, just as the personal urges him to engage the political.” Freeman writes, “This blending—of perception and politics—comes right out of how Lerner sees the world in real life.” Pair with Christopher Wood’s Millions review of Lerner’s 10:04.
At Brain Pickings, Maria Popova shares a series of drawings (produced in collaboration with Debbie Millman) that map the regions of the US according to literary quotations. Thoreau, perhaps not surprisingly, gets the East Coast with a quote from Walden, while Year in Reading alum Jeffrey Eugenides represents the Midwest.
“I’ve always thought Yunior’s voice isn’t possible without hip-hop,” Junot Díaz says. He discusses how hip-hop influenced his writing, his top three albums (Immortal Technique’s Revolutionary Vol. 2., Wu-Tang Clan’s Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers, and Big Daddy Kane’s Long Live the Kane), and even Miley Cyrus in an interview with Salon. Previously, we reported that he wrote his first book to the Conan the Barbarian soundtrack.
Need some more Jeanette Winterson in your life? The New Statesman is here with a short story. Titled “Gnomon,” it centers on a medieval blacksmith, Stephen, who’s asked to create his town’s first mechanical clock. Sample quote: “Time is irregular. One hour is not the same length as another.”