Out this week: Swing Time by Zadie Smith; Born a Crime by Trevor Noah; The China Sketchbook by I. Allen Sealy; Writing to Save a Life by John Edgar Wideman; The Abridged History of Rainfall by Jay Hopler; and Forever Words by the late Johnny Cash. For more on these and other new titles, go read our latest fiction and nonfiction book previews.
Why should a college student major in English? It’s a question with hundreds of answers, but one of the most common is that reading, more so than other activities, makes you a better person. It sharpens your mind and hones your sense of morality. But what if this comforting idea -- as close as you can get to a conviction held by all writers -- has little to no basis in reality?
Vanishing Point, which I’ve praised in the past, is offering an editorial fellowship in digital documentary publishing, and it’s open to people who live near Duke’s Center for Documentary Studies, as well as to those who live far away.
A newly released Roald Dahl collection, The Missing Golden Ticket and Other Splendiferous Secrets, includes a secret ending to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and excerpts from the author's hilariously bad report cards. Wrote one teacher about Dahl in 1931: "A persistent muddler. Vocabulary negligible, sentences malconstructed. He reminds me of a camel." (via Galley Cat)
In his new book, one of three coming out now or soon, Australian poet Clive James assembles his decades of knowledge into a series of mini-essays, many of which originally appeared in Poetry magazine. At Slate, Katy Waldman reads the collection, explaining why it gave her the urge to quote James ad infinitum. You could also read our own Garth Risk Hallberg on the poet’s book Cultural Amnesia.