New releases this week include the much-hyped The Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume I. Also out in nonfiction is President Obama’s picture book Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters, Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (author of Seabiscuit), as reviewed by the New York Times, Siddhartha Mukherjee’s The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, and, for hip-hop fans, Jay-Z’s memoir Decoded.
What can we make of the fact that members of the Guantánamo Bay medical staff have adopted Shakespearean names in “an attempt to avoid being held liable for any mistreatment of detainees?” Globe Theatre artistic director Dominic Dromgoole and Guantánamo detainees lawyer Clive Stafford Smith ponder the question.
“‘So your idea is to drive across America and write about it without talking to a single American?’ ‘Yes.'” Karl Ove Knausgaard travels North America as “a tongue-in-cheek Tocqueville” for the New York Times Magazine. Pair with his piece for The Millions, “The View from My Window is a Constant Reminder,” and with Jonathan Callahan‘s reading of Knausgaard’s My Struggle.
Three decades after his death, the work of Romanian writer Max Blecher remains largely unavailable in English. Ricky D’Ambrose writes for The Nation about Blecher’s work. As he puts it, “Max Blecher is an obsessive saboteur of the breach between two seemingly irreconcilable positions: revulsion and lust.”