Looks like you might want to add Noah Hawley’s new suspense novel Before the Fall to your reading list — this review by the New York Times is effusive in its praise. Check out the other side of what a Times review can do and pair it with this review of Laura Tillman’s The Long Shadow of Small Ghosts, which includes such lines as: “Is a book without judgment, a personal view and confidence in its validity still a book?”
"These stories feature hookups and breakups, substance abuse, and violence so casual it’s as natural as jagged breathing." Electric Literature has an interview between flash fiction author Len Kuntz and critic and writer David Galef, whose Brevity: A Flash Fiction Handbook was just published by Columbia University Press. The two discuss the state of short fiction, their favorite one-line stories of the year, and how, even in the briefest of narratives, readers should still "feel a connection to the story and characters." For more ultra-lean tales, see our own Emily St. John Mandel's review of Hint Fiction, an anthology of 25-words-and-under short stories.
When John Steinbeck wasn't busy writing 600-page novels, he might have been a Cold War CIA spy. In 1952, Steinbeck approached the CIA and suggested he could do some spying on an upcoming European trip. "The pace and method of my junket together with my intention of talking with great numbers of people of all classes may offer peculiar advantages," he wrote to an agent.
Husband and wife writing duo Matthew Seal and Julie Bruton-Seal will launch their new book, Make Your Own Aphrodisiacs, just in time for Valentine's Day. The couple, who live in Britain, (and who are by no means spring chickens), are encouraging people to look at natural ways of boosting their libido and to remove some of the myths and taboos surrounding aphrodisiacs.
"The company has forged a chain uncommon in mainstream publishing: an unbroken line of black women, from the novel’s protagonist, via the author, to the editor, to the art director who created the cover art (featuring a black woman)." Meet the trio of Black women at Kensington Publishing who are changing (modernizing) the traditional lily white romance genre.
“Nathan Englander’s characters have invented ‘the Anne Frank game’ whose major question is ‘who would hide you if there were another Holocaust.’ By making this a game, the characters demonstrate their affective distance from the event, but at the same time Englander illustrates that the Holocaust remains a touchstone for the marijuana-smoking, Orthodox Jews who bring the game to their secular Jewish friends.” On the fictional afterlife of Anne Frank.
"[G]uess what, spending hours of your spare time plowing through some dense and symbol-laden carnival of affectation and ambiguity only makes you resentful of the publishing industry that pushed the book on you in the first place." Alex Balk at The Awl takes the piss out of recent studies that have suggested reading literary fiction might make us better people. Writer John Vaillant, whom we interviewed last year, might disagree.