On August 1st, 1914, Germany declared war on Russia. Also, Franz Kafka went swimming. Moreover, the Metamorphosis author mentioned both events in his diary, writing simply and strangely that “Germany has declared war on Russia — went swimming in the afternoon.” Was this odd phrasing intentional or a sign of the author’s self-absorption? In an article for Open Letters Monthly, Robert Minto reads all three volumes of Reiner Stach’s new biography.
There are plenty of new books to this week to fill that post-election void: Both Flesh and Not: Essays, a posthumously published collection from David Foster Wallace; Barbara Kingsolver's Flight Behavior; Prosperous Friends by Christine Schutt; Magnificence by Lydia Millet; and These Things Happen, a debut by longtime TV writer Richard Kramer. From the indies, we have The Care and Feeding of Exotic Pets by Diana Wagman and Keyhole Factory by William Gillespie. Also out are Philip Pullman's new version of Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm; Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks; and a big new Michael Jackson biography by a former Rolling Stone editor.
February 1st is the application deadline for the Cleveland State University Poetry Center Anisfield-Wolf Fellowship in Writing and Publishing. It's a two year post-graduate fellowship that offers $40,000 per year while you work on completing a second book or starting a first. Apply now!
Out this week: Thomas Murphy by Roger Rosenblatt; The Deep Sea Diver's Syndrome by Serge Brussolo; Weathering by Lucy Wood; Remains by Jesús Castillo; and What Belongs to You by Garth Greenwell (which we reviewed). For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great 2016 Book Preview.
James Gleick, writing for the New York Review of Books, looks at how the Library of Congress has begun “stockpiling the entire Twitterverse, or Tweetosphere, or whatever we’ll end up calling it” in order to create a modern-day “library of Babel.” I’ll admit that it sounds insane to collect the tweets of ~500 million users, so instead I offer an alternative. Let’s just record everything RT’d by Pentametron2013 for posterity, eh?