“America has always been built—and continues to be built—by those the establishment keeps invisible.” Public Books runs the sixth installment of its “An Engineer Reads a Novel” series, this time taking on Colson Whitehead‘s Underground Railroad and John Henry Days. We also recently reviewed the former, which has been blessed by both Oprah Winfrey and President Obama.
Novelists, poets, and playwrights aren’t the only people who can call themselves writers. Don’t forget the oft begrudged screenwriters. The New York Times highlights 14 of this year’s best screenwriters, including Julie Deply and Seth Rogen, and asks them for writing advice and one original line of dialogue for some excellent short films. Our favorite short film is Robert Redford’s.
The Times is reporting that a new film and companion book (Salinger by David Shields and Shane Salerno) “include detailed assertions that Mr. Salinger instructed his estate to publish at least five additional books — some of them entirely new, some extending past work — in a sequence that he intended to begin as early as 2015.” One of the books is said to include a retooled version of Salinger’s unpublished (but available at the Princeton library) story “The Last and Best of the Peter Pans.” Kristopher Jansma (The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards) wrote about the story for us in 2011. Bonus Link: Garth Risk Hallberg on Salinger’s legacy.
New this week: The Angel of History by Rabih Alameddine; The Mortifications by Derek Palacio; Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple; The Explosion Chronicles by Yan Lianke; The Trespasser by Tana French; The Wangs vs. the World by Jade Chang; and Nicotine by Nell Zink. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-Half 2016 Book Preview.
Want to be as brilliant as Jonathan Swift? Try reading Latin for ten hours a day. As this New Statesman review of Jonathan Swift: His Life and His World makes clear, the satirist went through a backbreaking classics regimen at Kilkenny College in Ireland. (There’s also the fact that he wrote constant letters to a sickly female confidante.)