“Ageists who want to fault millennials for the continual decline in literary reading are wrong to do so. Across the board, there wasn’t much considerable variation in the amount literature age groups read. Everyone is hanging out in the 39–49% range.” Is America in the midst of a literary recession? According to the National Endowment for the Arts, 2015 marked the first year in 33 cycles of research that the percentage of adults who read literature had dropped below 45% to a dismal 43%.
In "kids these days" news, any book now counts as a "novel." There are fiction novels and nonfiction novels, recipe novels and poetry novels and picture novels and, less facetiously, a new novel told in letters of recommendation, Julie Schumacher's Dear Committee Members. And now that you've finished my three-sentence nonfiction digital novel, here's the world's longest novel, which clocks in at 3 million pages that I confess I have not read.
"The way Vermeer painted this wall is consistent with a photograph. It is not consistent with human vision." In a fascinating new documentary by Penn and Teller, a digital-graphics artist spent five years building a lens, a room, and a harpsichord to figure out how.
Out this week: The Children Act by Ian McEwan; The Dog by Joseph O'Neill; Barracuda by Christos Tsiolkas; Hold the Dark by William Giraldi; Prelude to Bruise by Saeed Jones; Faithful and Virtuous Night by Louise Glück; Gangsterland by Tod Goldberg; Happiness: Ten Years of n + 1; Neverhome by Laird Hunt; and Station Eleven by our own Emily St. John Mandel. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great Second-half 2014 Book Preview.
“Marlon James’s management of the voice and the paragraph isn’t what you’d call unpretty, and he’s good at having it both ways on a larger scale too. Reptilian black-ops masterminds out of a Robert Stone novel as well as bumbling CIA bureaucrats, baroque deaths in the bush and casual killings by the side of the road, historical and magic realism, sex and violence and a more ‘sophisticated kind of art’: the guy’s got it all.” This review of James’ A Brief History of Seven Killings from The London Review of Books is well worth the read.