In Case You Missed It: This email exchange between playwright Sarah Ruhl and the late Max Ritvo, whose Four Reincarnations is out next week: “I think my mind is a set of lapis lazuli steps falling apart, and all I want is to be told ‘it’s alright, we rebuild it every day’ But what is the it? What is it? And if I was vaporized by a ray gun but was then replaced instantly by an identical person with an identical filigree of nerves shot through with identical sparks cased in an identical skull—would it still be me? I don’t think so. I don’t know if even a perfect Reincarnation would be a Reincarnation to me, in my heart. I’m starting to feel like Theseus and I just want my fucking ship out of the dry-dock and back on the water.”
While millions of teenage girls and grown women (see the Twilight Moms blog if you don’t believe me) wait with bated breath for the November 20th premier of New Moon (see the preview here), the film version of the second installment of Stephenie Meyer‘s Twilight series, some less satisfied readers are making movies of their own–movies in which they beat, burn, and otherwise insult copies of Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn. See Burn, Twilight, Burn!, Twilight Burning, with Techno, The Twilight Chainsaw Massacre, Twilight Baseball. And that’s only for starters. I also like this one, Twilight Burning Party, in which two spunky Ghost World-y young ladies, Cassi and Angel, do a little stand-up literary critique before burning the book.
David Bowie hasn’t performed live in seven years, but he has a good excuse — he’s been reading. His top 100 books are part of the “David Bowie Is” traveling exhibition (currently in Toronto.) The list reveals that he’s a big fan of American lit, including Michael Chabon’s Wonder Boys, Saul Bellow’s Herzog, James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, and more. He’s also an amateur rock historian, naming Charlie Gillete’s The Sound of the City: The Rise of Rock and Roll and Peter Guralnick’s Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm and Blues and the Southern Dream of Freedom among others. When can we sign up for the class, Professor Bowie?
Out this week: The Small Backs of Children by Lidia Yuknavitch; The Woman Who Stole My Life by Marian Keyes; The Hand that Feeds You by A.J. Rich; Among the Ten Thousand Things by Julia Pierpont; Vanishing Games by Roger Hobbs; The Last Pilot by Benjamin Johncock; Speak by Louisa Hall; The Way Things Were by Aatish Taseer; The Invaders by Karolina Waclawiak; Pretty Is by Maggie Mitchell; You Don’t Have to Live Like This by Benjamin Markovits; French Concession by Xiao Bai; The Captive Condition by Kevin P. Keating; and the paperback edition of our own Edan Lepucki’s California. For more on these and other new titles, check out our latest book preview.
On Zadie Smith in the Guardian: The new novel arrived fully-formed: Zadie Smith woke up one morning, and On Beauty was all there, in her head. She wanted to write a long marriage – she’d just got married herself, was curious what 30 years of it would be like – and she had a plot. When she described it to her new husband, poet and novelist Nick Laird, however, he pointed out she was simply rewriting Howards End. But she has never been afraid of tribute, and [E.M.] Forster was a “first love”; she had a couple of serious wobbles but this did not put her off.The Guardian also gives the book a good review. On Beauty comes out September 13.Every once in a while I spot an interesting looking item in those ads at the top of the page. Today I saw one for Out of Eden: Odyssey of Ecological Invasion by Alan Burdick. It looks like the sort of book you’d like if you like Jared Diamond’s books. It describes how different invasive species have managed to relocate to new parts of the globe.Tattoos and literature are becoming ever more enmeshed, it seems. Recent novels by Jill Ciment and John Irving dwell on tattoos, and now a Brooklyn writer, Shelley Jackson, “has been having volunteers tattooed with individual words of her 2,095-word short story (“Skin”) since 2003. Only 700 words remain to be tattooed.” Read about it here.Another online book-tracking and tagging application: Reader2
Harper Perennial is pairing the expansive resources of a major publishing house with the exciting risks of an indie press. Could this magical formula catch on at other houses?
In his new book, Pill City, journalist Kevin Deutsch set out to tell the real story of how, following the 2015 Baltimore riots, Charm City’s streets became flush with heroin and pills. But now local writers are raising serious questions about the veracity of Deutsch’s account. Among others, The Wire creator David Simon has called the book “a wholesale fabrication.” Last week, Newsday announced they were “reviewing Deutsch’s work over the four years he worked here,” and the New York Times, where Deutsch has contributed, followed suit.
In an interview with America Magazine, Pope Francis admits that the authors he most admires are Fyodor Dostoevsky, Johann Hölderlin, The Betrothed author Alessandro Manzoni, and Gerard Manley Hopkins. He also goes on to share an interesting anecdote about his compatriot Jorge Luis Borges: “In the end I decided to send Borges two stories written by [the secondary school] boys [I was teaching]. I knew his secretary, who had been my piano teacher. And Borges liked those stories very much. And then he set out to write the introduction to a collection of these writings.”