The Boston Globe profiles Daniel Coquillette, co-author of the first comprehensive history of Harvard Law School. “Deeming the previous attempts lackluster, Coquillette and Bruce Kimball resolved to produce an honest, critical look at Harvard Law School’s founding — and its oftentimes bigoted history.” His book inspired students to take action to retire the school’s crest.
Dwight Garner, writing in the current issue of The New York Times Magazine, laments that so many high-end American novelists seem to be working on "the nine-year plan," delivering a new novel roughly once a decade. He cites Jeffrey Eugenides, who will be out soon with The Marriage Plot, his third novel in 18 years, along with such slow cookers as Jonathan Franzen, Donna Tartt and Michael Chabon. One name Garner neglected to mention is the Pulitzer Prize-winner William Kennedy, who will be out next month with Chango's Beads and Two-Tone Shoes, the eighth installment in his Albany cycle and his first novel since Roscoe appeared nine years and nine months ago. Look for our review of it here next month.
We have returned from Los Angeles, where it was so sunny and warm, to Chicago, where it is so cloudy and cold. It actually rained briefly one of the days we were in LA, and we thought it was hilarious that everyone kept apologizing for it. If people apologized for bad weather in Chicago, nobody would have time to talk about anything else. Anyway, I've spent the day catching up on e-mails, RSS feeds, blogs and the like, and I thought I'd share the links that caught my eye.Mad Max Perkins, editor and secret-identity blogger, returned from a long hiatus to reveal the title of the novel that he had gotten so excited about editing back when he was a regular blogger. The novel is Dope by Sara Gran, and I have to admit, I'm very intrigued. In the process, Perkins revealed himself to be none other than Dan Conaway of Penguin Putnam, as Sarah at GalleyCat explains.At BookLust, a gorgeous sculpture constructed out of books.Hikikomori, Japan's epidemic of shut ins. In the New York Times.An oddly terrifying look at all the psychological engineering that goes on in reality shows: The Omarosa Experiment at The Morning News.Hilarious and informative: Outrageous firsts in television history.Jonathan Yardley's review of Michael D'Antonio's Hershey gives an interesting snapshot of the chocolate magnate's life.
The world isn’t exactly wanting for character studies of Captain Ahab, but Chris Power manages to come up with a novel analysis of the character in this essay about the Moby-Dick antagonist. In Power’s telling, Ahab was valuable in part for what he told us about the 20th century -- namely, he foreshadowed the dictators and despots to come. You could also read Hester Blum’s contribution to this essay about the best American novels.
I’ve written before about the First Sentence series at Granta. The magazine asks a prominent writer to explain how they came to write an opening line. Recently, they asked Bear Down, Bear North author Melinda Moustakis to talk about the beginning of her story "River So Close": “She’s a good-for-nothing chummer.” You could also read Jonathan Russell Clark on the art of the opening sentence.
New this week: The Secret Place by Tana French; 10:04 by Ben Lerner; Barbarian Days by William Finnegan; Wittgenstein, Jr. by Lars Iyer; The Emerald Light in the Air by Donald Antrim; and The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great Second-half 2014 Book Preview.
New releases this week include The Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood, a limited edition of Stephen King’s illustrated poem The Dark Man and The Sound of Things Falling by Juan Gabriel Vásquez, which we covered as part of our Great Second-Half 2013 Book Preview. Now available in paperback is Alice Munro's Dear Life.