“BEST FEATURE: If you glance at the word it looks like it says ‘tiny axe’ which sounds very cute. It makes me picture a tiny lumberjack. WORST FEATURE: Anxiety can turn a pleasant afternoon into a sweat-drenched pair of slacks that are hard to explain.” Ted Wilson reviews anxiety (spoiler alert: it only gets one star out of five) for Electric Literature.
Out this week: The Laughing Monsters by Denis Johnson; Let Me Be Frank With You by Richard Ford; Mermaids in Paradise by Lydia Millet; Ugly Girls by Lindsay Hunter; Twilight of the Eastern Gods by Ismail Kadare; A Map of Betrayal by Ha Jin; Something Rich and Strange by Ron Rash; and Shark by Will Self. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great Second-half 2014 Book Preview.
"I learned through imitation, but it was only when I followed—or found—my own voice that I was able to derive a different kind of inspiration from reading fiction, something subtler and more expansive. Today, when I reach a wall in my own work, I turn to authors I love to remind myself what is possible: that sentence, that structure, that daring twist of plot." Chloe Benjamin, who just yesterday published a piece on choosing book titles for The Millions, writes about the dangers and rewards of reading while writing for Poets and Writers' Recommends series.
"Their relative obscurity is what makes their fans so passionate — these are voices that never quite found the right audience when they were alive." Longreads has a reading list of forgotten women writers, including Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Jessie Redmon Fauset, and Anita Brookner, whom we profiled in our own pages last year.
Perhaps the best mashup of highbrow and lowbrow to grace the cultural ether in recent years is this innovative scratch-and-sniff guide to becoming a wine expert. The book, which is exactly what you think it is, declares that “not all oaks are created equal” and includes a diagram of “all the smells in the world.” (Related: literary tourism at Suttree’s High Gravity Beer Tavern.)