Out this week: Multiple Choice by Alejandro Zambra; The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close; Monterey Bay by Lindsay Hatton; and Losing It by Emma Rathbone. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-Half 2016 Book Preview.
This is supercool: Hyperallergic reports programmer Jamie Zawinski has created a digital rendering of the library of Babel from Jorge Luis Borges’s short story of the same name, which imagines an institution intended to house all potential books. You might also enjoy our 2013 piece about a discovered set of Borges lectures from a class the author taught in Argentina in 1966.
What is the function of the art critic, anyway? According to Barry Schwabsky at The Nation, it is not “making or breaking” an artist, but rather “opening up perspectives without … belaboring them.” For the critically minded among you, here’s a Millions review of A.O. Scott’s new book Better Living Through Criticism.
What inspired Wally Lamb’s latest novel, We Are Water? Part of it came from his experience teaching writing at a women’s prison in Connecticut for the past 14 years. He spoke to The Missouri Review about what it’s like to teach “the incarcerated wounded” and how they have influenced his work. “With my fiction, I’ve never been afraid to go to the dark places, but I think the women have made me more daring.”
Is just me, or has The New Yorker been resurgent the last few weeks? In addition to the David Grann piece mentioned below, we’ve gotten: Bloomberg, diving, James Wood‘s most cogent essay to date on atheism and belief, and a F-B-P triple play. (That’s Friend to Bilger to Paumgarten, for those keeping score at home.) And I read the fiction for five issues in a row – a personal best. I know they assemble these things far in advance, but it still feels like the Ian Frazier “Siberia” two-parter, eight years in the making, started some kind of conflagration of awesomeness. Thoughts?