“When Leonard Riggio bought Barnes & Noble in 1971, it consisted of a single struggling store in Manhattan. Over time, with swagger and an unwavering belief in the value of physical bookstores, he turned it into the country’s largest bookselling chain.” Riggio, founder and executive chairman of B&N, announced yesterday that he will be stepping down in September. Let our own Janet Potter take you through a history of her love for bookstores.
“The home I grew up in will never exist again, and this is why I write so much about home, perhaps. Because I lost mine,” Jesmyn Ward told Roxane Gay in an interview for The Toast. They discussed Ward’s new memoir, Men We Reaped, her writing process, and how she deals with being labeled a “black woman writer.”
Apparently the idea that vampires and zombies aren’t real but serial killers are didn’t occur to anyone associated with the book, Gossip Girl, Psycho Killer.
You may have heard that our own Bill Morris has a new book on shelves. He talked about it with fellow Millions staff writer and California author Edan Lepucki. At the LARB, Diana Clarke reviews the book, which she calls “a sharp critique of the contemporary American post-racial narrative,” among other things.
The international popularity and utility of English doesn’t show any signs of slowing, but what will the language look like after a few generations of increasing usage? The Economist gives a brief answer, but it doesn’t address the ways English is or will be used by different people to tell their stories. Damian Fowler addresses this when he asks, “[W]hat does it mean to have an American point of view,” or to call a book American in tone, as opposed to British or just English-language? In a blog post for The Paris Review, Fowler offers an answer: American novels are characterized by “a spare, sure sense of narrative, reflected in a colloquial voice, free of affectation.”
It seems almost silly to mention it since the book’s been on shelves and discussed in the book pages for a couple of weeks now, but the “official” release date of David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King is this Friday. (Our review was published today.) Meghan O’Rourke’s grief memoir The Long Goodbye is out this week. And another look at our culture through the lens of our technology is now out, Steven Levy’s In The Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives.
James Gleick talks to one of the software engineers behind autocorrect, that “impish god” responsible for turning our ids to I’ds and moviestars to Natalie Portmanteaus. In response, Jen Doll wonders whether we love to hate autocorrect “because when it messes up we’re happily reminded that phones and computers are not actually smarter than people.”