Out this week: Barkskins by Annie Proulx; Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty by Ramona Ausubel; I’m Just a Person by Tig Notaro; The Course of Love by Alain de Botton; and The Girls by Emma Cline (which we reviewed). For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great 2016 Book Preview.
There are many possible answers to the question “where do you write?”, but one of the strangest, and most unexpected, has to be “I don’t know.” At The Rumpus, Brendan Constantine admits that he doesn’t write in any one place, and that his memory for where he’s written before is “completely unreliable.” We surveyed our own staff a couple years ago to see how they answered the question.
Out this week: Avenue of Mysteries by John Irving; Twain & Stanley Enter Paradise by Oscar Hijuelos; Numero Zero by Umberto Eco; The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild; Wherever There Is Light by Peter Golden; City of Clowns by Daniel Alarcón; and The Mare by Mary Gaitskill (who we interviewed today). For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great Second-Half 2015 Book Preview.
"These are terrific diversions, but their status next to the book is a little ambiguous. Isn't using animation to advertise a book a little like using sculpture to promote poetry?" asks Lindesay Irvine in this article about book trailers in The Guardian. If you're looking for a diversion, this video short based on César Aira's Ghosts is certainly worth watching.
World-building is an essential part of any story, but what about map-making? At Book Riot, two cartographers explain how they create the maps we see inside books. One cartographer’s perspective: “I really wanted to make a map that could easily be an artifact from the world of the book…. I came up with the idea that the map could be a page ripped from an atlas, and someone had written notes on it.” See also: Rob Goodman’s essay for the reader on world-building and its relationship to reality.
I reported earlier that Franzen’s Purity was headed to TV with Daniel Craig front and center. Now, Showtime has officially sealed the deal. Production is expected to begin in 2017. Revisit our editor Lydia Kiesling’s review of the book to prepare for the series.
Implicit in a lot of the discussions about how negative a book reviewer can be is a question of utility: is a book review an act of public service or a work of art in itself? In the Times, James Parker and Anna Holmes debate the purpose of the review. Sample quote: “I’d argue that a majority of the reading public doesn’t necessarily benefit from the sorts of reviews for which artistry is the point.” You could also read our own Matt Seidel’s hypothetical worst review ever.
Clare Beams reflects on her impressions of Little Women as a child and an adult at Ploughshares. A piece of her essay: “Of course, none of the real Alcott sisters could have fit into the spaces Little Women carved out for them. No real person could…. Real-life girls are messes of contradiction.” You could also read Deena Drewis’s essay on the perception of women’s writing and gender bias in publishing.