“I couldn’t put the books down. Now that so many of us complain of diminished attention spans— our own as well as our companions’—it’s worth asking what has made millions of readers willing to suspend their disbelief—to suspend their selves—for thousands of pages.” Why have so many people gone gaga for Ferrante and Knausgaard? We have our own theories as well.
Some world literature links: Sign and Sight offers the best introduction to Herta Müller I’ve been able to find…The Complete Review gets the ball rolling on Roberto Bolaño’s (very) early novel Monsieur Pain, forthcoming from New Directions…Ingo Schulze, author of the quietly astonishing New Lives and the forthcoming One More Story, talks to The Toronto Star (via)…The NBCC features Yu Hua‘s Brothers…Claudio Magris is crowned the king of Frankfurt…Maud Newton hails Juan Gabriel Vásquez‘s “inventive and intricately plotted” The Informers…The Brooklyn Rail and Transcript both offer handsome online digests of short stories from around the world.
New this week: The Best of McSweeney’s; a new e-book edition of Highway Trade by John Domini; and new paperback editions of Between Heaven and Here by Susan Straight and Samuel Johnson is Indignant by Lydia Davis. (You could also read Susan Straight’s Millions essay on Toni Morrison’s Sula.)
“But we are lured into believing that the first person is the manifestation of an authentic self. Or: we fall for the first person because we feel so little coherence in our own internal lives, and immersing ourselves in a sustained first person narrative gives us the false reassurance of an illusion.”
A German cow named Yvonne escaped her impending trip to a slaughterhouse and soon became a national icon. In the wake of public outcry, officials have called off the search for her. Elsewhere, Lydia Davis is probably regretting that this story broke after she published her bovine chapbook The Cows.