Boston has announced the country’s first “Literary Culture District,” marked by memorials to Edgar Allen Poe and Sylvia Plath. It also includes some arguably less interesting sites – the buildings that used to house The Atlantic Monthly and Little, Brown and Company, for example. Caroline O’Donovan writes critically about the new district for The Baffler and concludes that “we’ve allowed glib cultural ideals to occlude economic realities, and tourism tax dollars to triumph over a candid conversation about the origins of art and the sustainability of its production.”
Following the Irish release of The Guts, the new Roddy Doyle novel that brings back Jimmy Rabbitte from The Commitments, The Irish Times interviews Doyle, who remembers a time when his writing garnered him death threats. Sample quote: “I drove the guy in the next room demented as I replayed an old tape, repeating the same musical phrase, again and again.”
Out this week: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi; Rich and Pretty by Rumaan Alam; They May Not Mean To, But They Do by Cathleen Schine; Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley; and End of Watch by Stephen King. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great 2016 Book Preview.
You might think that recording an audiobook would be an easy task for Ice-T. Not so, or at least not always: the rapper and Law & Order star says an upcoming book in the Dungeons and Dragons universe tripped him up with its heavy use of fantasy slang. (h/t The Paris Review)
One thing that pretty much everyone can agree on is that Go Set a Watchman is a controversial book. Our own Michael Bourne said it “fails as a work of art in every way except as a corrective to the standard sentimental reading of Atticus Finch.” At Slate, Dan Kois, Meghan O’Rourke and Katy Waldman debate the main questions the novel raised.
Joan Didion and NPR uber-interviewer Terry Gross will be honored at the National Book Awards ceremony in November. Dideon won a National Book Award in 2005 for her memoir The Year of Magical Thinking.The National Library of Scotland flooded yesterday thanks to a faulty sprinkler system. It was a close call: “Some modern books and manuscripts suffered ‘surface’ water damage, but all of the ‘important, iconic’ books were saved.”Oops! A church in England sold some rare tomes for modest though still substantial sum to a book dealer, only to find, too late, that they are worth much, much more.