Out this week: Exit West by Mohsin Hamid; South and West: From a Notebook by Joan Didion; All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg; Ill Will by Dan Chaon; The Accusation by Bandi; The Night Ocean by Paul La Farge; and American Berserk by our own Bill Morris. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
Another day, another LARB piece about reading Russian fiction in conjunction with the Winter Olympics. (One particularly interesting earlier installment is over here.) Meanwhile, I offer a compendium of passages from the Russian masters, and use my favorite #SochiFails to illustrate them.
“To say that late Victorian poetry is bleak would be akin to remarking that Wilkie Collins had a decent knack for plotting a novel. These poems are freighted with Gothic overtones, and it is not uncommon for some supernatural phenomenon to intrude upon what had started out as a seemingly harmless quatrain. We often encounter Death himself—or the Devil—who is something of a literary celebrity for the decadent poets. But what marks the best of these poems is that the outré is in service to something that we can think of as more desperate, and, wouldn’t you know, human.” Over at The Boston Review, an online-only essay looking at the peculiarities of Victorian decadent poetry.
The New Inquiry‘s updated site launched over the weekend, and it’s currently undergoing a live beta test. They’ve also just unveiled a bumper crop of new bloggers. One of the site’s interesting features is that all of its content is available for sharing and remixing under a creative commons license.
“There is, however, more to these poems than just the occasional chuckle. The Google autocomplete suggestions are based on previous searches by actual people all around the world. In the cold blue glow of their computer screens, they ask ‘why am I alone’ and ‘why do fat girls have high standards’. They wonder how to roll a joint and whether it is too early to say ‘I love you’. They seek information on ninjas, cannibals, and Rihanna, and sometimes they just ask ‘am I better off dead?’”
David J. Peterson is the man responsible for creating the Dothraki and Valyrian languages for the television adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series. Peterson, who took Martin’s 55 Dothraki names and created a 4,000 word vocabulary, is interviewed over at Flavorwire. If the Dothraki don’t have a word for it, the Germans probably do. Here’s an essay from The Millions on just that.