“Every sense cleared about three hundred percent and stood up on its hind legs waving its feelers.” Eighty years ago, James Agee got an assignment that entered him into history, though not during his lifetime. Let us now celebrate Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. See also: our essay on famous artist-writer collaborations, like Agee’s with Walker Evans.
The trailer is out for the film adaptation of Nobel laureate Alice Munro’s Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage. The film will star Kristen Wiig, Guy Pearce, Hailee Steinfeld and Nick Nolte among others.
What did we read in the Obama era? Christian Lorentzen has some answers. Apart from individual books like The Flamethrowers and The Art of Fielding, he comes up with some genres that have dominated the past eight years, including autofiction, works of trauma and fables of meritocracy. (You can probably guess where Leaving the Atocha Station ends up.)
What’s the best book Mary Roach has read recently? Tim Johnston’s first novel, Descent: “I read the last 30 pages in an airport, 10 feet from the gate, and did not notice the boarding announcements. I missed my flight for literature.” Bonus: Here’s Roach’s interview with The Millions from a couple of years back.
New this week: Flings by Justin Taylor; We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas; The Story Hour by Thrity Umrigar; Sweetness #9 by Stephan Eirik Clark; The Undertaking by Audrey Magee; Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher; and a new translation of a French children’s book by Lydia Davis. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great Second-half 2014 Book Preview.
This September, OR Books will publish Tales of Two Cities, an anthology of short fiction focused on economic inequality in New York City. Among its contributors are some familiar names: Junot Díaz, Lydia Davis, Dave Eggers, Colum McCann, Téa Obreht, Zadie Smith, and Teju Cole. The volume will also be illustrated by Molly Crabapple, whose Occupy Wall Street portraits earned critical acclaim in 2012.