This one goes out to all you procrastinators out there. A woman in Auckland, New Zealand has just returned a library book (Myths and Legends of Maoriland) a cool sixty-seven years late–she had “been meaning to return it” for decades. Hopefully she didn’t leave any boogers.
“I war-gamed out everything. My biggest fear was that somebody tries to play out my book and finds out it won’t work.” At The New York Times, Alexandra Alter writes about the new Minecraft novel by Max Brooks, author of World War Z: “In the process, he may have also created a strange new entertainment category, one that hovers somewhere between fan fiction, role-playing games and literature — a novel set in a game, that can itself be played within the game.” And while we’re on the topic of games, let’s also talk about geekdom and race.
“The media of my childhood, mostly weekly television shows and overused VHS tapes, was like a good pet. Sure, it was a little costly to keep around, but it was lovable, and I could always shut it out in the yard for a while. Now, though, media is always with me, always trying to snag my attention and siphon away as much as possible to sell to advertisers. It feels like it’s evolved from a cute little pet into a frighteningly efficient parasite.”
Out this week is a highly touted seafaring debut We the Drowned. This book in translation is by Danish writer Carsten Jensen. Another debut effort arriving this week is Open City by Teju Cole, which PW likened to Coetzee, Sebald, and Nicholson Baker. Out in paperback today are Adam Haslett’s Union Atlantic and controversial Millions Hall of Famer Reality Hunger by David Shields.
The publishers Hamish Hamilton/Penguin UK have begun a “social media experiment” in which they’ll use PeerIndex to single out “influencers” to review and promote books. “Influencers” will be determined by the breadth and reach of their social media presence, and they’ll be selected based on their relevance to certain books. This kind of marketing is exactly what Eli Pariser warns about in The Filter Bubble. (For a quick summary, listen to his TED talk.)
“The past fascinates me obsessively, I suppose, because it’s such a strange phenomenon. The past was the present at some point, and it was just as boring as the present. What makes it so important? What gives it that luminous, exalted quality where it becomes the past?” John Banville addresses these and many other heady questions in his new novel, The Blue Guitar.
Congrats are in order for Sergio de la Pava, who just won the $25,000 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Award for his debut novel, A Naked Singularity. For more on the novel, which holds an illustrious place in our Hall of Fame, check out our own Garth Risk Hallberg’s profile of the author from last year.