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.
“As a writer, it’s not like all experience is useful, but when something is troubling, a form can present itself as a way to think. To put what is essentially chaotic into a container where it can be what it is.” The Rumpus interviews John Freeman, the Executive Editor of LitHub, about his recent literary projects, the death of his mother, and empathy. Pair with: Contributing Editor Nick Ripatrazone‘s Year in Reading which includes Freeman’s debut poetry collection, Maps.
Fun fact: Up until the late 1940s, science fiction novels really didn’t exist. Andrew Liptak writes about the rise of the paperback novel and the evolution of science fiction for Kirkus Reviews. Pair with Nichole Bernier‘s Millions essay on “The Point of the Paperback.”
In her new book, Hard-Core Romance, Eva Illouz has published the first serious, book-length academic analysis of the Fifty Shades of Grey. The critically-panned Fifty Shades trilogy, originally a Twilight fan fiction, has sold 32 million copies in the US so far. At The New Republic, William Giraldi seizes the opportunity for a brutal send-up of author E. L. James and the “dreck” she represents. “At least people are reading,” he writes, “You’ve no doubt heard that before. But we don’t say of the diabetic obese, At least people are eating.” Pair with The Millions’ essay on literary predecessors in published fan fiction.
In a piece for the Los Angeles Review of Books, Sarah Mesle reviews Mallory Ortberg‘s Texts from Jane Eyre, which “is not only a major work of bathroom humor reading, but also a significant contribution to feminist literary criticism. It is difficult to imagine another book that would both be a perfect stocking stuffer and an exemplary text for a seminar in literary studies.”