Out this week: My Struggle: Book Five by Karl Ove Knausgaard; Before the Wind by Jim Lynch; Hystopia by David Means; Midnight in Berlin by James MacManus; and Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great 2016 Book Preview.
Reading War and Peace was always a challenge, but how much harder is it in an age of constant distraction? At Salon, Mike Harris, a self-confessed distraction addict, writes about his experience tackling the Russian classic. You could also read our own Kevin Hartnett on the book’s effect on perception.
JT Leroy, who has been revealed as a made-up persona created to sell books, is still being “spotted” in LA and maintaining a blog. Pinky has the details.In his Friday Column, Scott writes about literary fiction that is “much discussed” but doesn’t sell many copies.Author (and blogger) Jenny Davidson has a new book coming out.And from the wonders of the world file: Something has caused the lake that sits atop Vanuatu’s Aoba volcano to turn from blue to red. Scientists are perplexed.
“Almost as soon as the concept of the Great American Novel was invented, in the nation-building years after the Civil War, Buell finds it being mocked, noting that one observer dryly put it into the same category as ‘other great American things such as the great American sewing-machine, the great American public school, and the great American sleeping-car.’ It was enough of a cliché by 1880 for Henry James to refer to it with the acronym ‘GAN,’ which Buell employs throughout his book.” On the reigning gold standard for quality in American fiction. (Related: we asked nine experts their picks for the best American novel.)
“I worry that people in the city where the novel is based will take issue, all kinds of issue, with it. I worry that readers will be like who cares.” Here are all the things you should be worried about while working on a novel, helpfully brought to light by Susannah Felts at The Literary Hub.
“The magical aspect of poetry does not diminish the value of critical scrutiny. Scholarship has clarified the meaning of poetry. The point is rather that an essential part of poetry’s power has little connection to conceptual understanding. Poetry proffers some mysteries that lie beyond paraphrase.” Dana Gioia with a beautiful essay on the enchantment of poetry for The Dark Horse. Check out our extensive On Poetry archive and continue your journey of poetic enchantment.
Movies on Mars–that’s Avatar director James Cameron‘s newest project and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab will reap the benefits. At the Pasadena Star News, the story of how Cameron’s camera will give a 3D eye to the next Mars rover.
Recommended reading: on dictionary-related panics from The New Yorker. Pair with our own Bill Morris‘s Millions essay “Prescriptivists vs. Descriptivists: The Fifth Edition of The American Heritage Dictionary.”