“Baker is such a wonderful prose stylist that he could probably get away with publishing his diary—which, for epic stretches, is what Substitute feels like.” Over at The Nation, Evan Kindley reviews Nicholson Baker‘s latest, a 700-plus-page non-fiction exploration of substitute teaching. Spoiler: it’s not as sexy as Baker’s other work. If it’s the sex you want, see our primer on Baker’s novels; also immensely entertaining, our interview with the author from 2013.
If you’re looking forward to the next Margaret Atwood novel, you’ll have to wait a century. Atwood is the first author to participate in the Future Library project, in which 100 authors will write 100 original manuscripts to be published 100 years from now. We’re envious of our grandchildren. If you’d like an Atwood fix sooner, her short story collection Stone Mattress: Nine Tales comes out next week.
George Dobbs explores the history of some common cliches for The Airship and makes an elegant argument for being aware of overused phrasing: “The worst fiction might never go beyond widely used tropes, but the best fiction starts with an awareness of them.” We agree, and also hope never to read “It was a dark and stormy night…” again.