“To age is to understand that the powers of total recovery are gone, are no longer anticipated (except by those who, having lost their marbles, no longer know what to anticipate).” The epistolary legacy of writers such as Samuel Beckett, Saul Bellow, and Elizabeth Bishop offers invaluable insight into the process of growing older, writes Robert Fay for The Atlantic. See also our own Lydia Kiesling on the narrative possibilities of leaked emails.
Ta-Nehisi Coates wants to make America less stupid about the Civil War. He recommends five books we should all read to gain a better understanding of American history during this war and assures us that "I’ve tried to think very hard about readability, and to offer books you might actually complete." So no excuses, start here
Out this week is a highly touted seafaring debut We the Drowned. This book in translation is by Danish writer Carsten Jensen. Another debut effort arriving this week is Open City by Teju Cole, which PW likened to Coetzee, Sebald, and Nicholson Baker. Out in paperback today are Adam Haslett's Union Atlantic and controversial Millions Hall of Famer Reality Hunger by David Shields.
USA Today is running an excerpt of Denis Johnson's much buzzed about new doorstop Tree of Smoke.The New Yorker Food Issue, to my mind the highlight of the New Yorker publishing year, has arrived. Somehow I look forward to this one as much as I did the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue when I was twelve. Much of the good stuff isn't online, but you can get a taste of the food writing on offer with a series of short essays under theme "Family Dinner." Aleksandar Hemon, Gary Shteyngart, Nell Freudenberger, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, David Sedaris, Anthony Lane, and Donald Antrim are on the menu.
A pair of big-name writers have new shorter-form ebook originals out. Stephen King's Guns is a "pulls-no-punches essay" about gun violence in America, with all proceeds going to Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. Meanwhile, Richard Russo has a new novella, Nate in Venice.