Out this week: The Book of Joan by Lidia Yuknavitch; Imagine Wanting Only This by Kristen Radtke; A Line Made by Walking by Sara Baume; The Woman Who Had Two Navels and Tales of the Tropical Gothic by Nick Joaquin; and My Cat Yugoslavia by Pajtim Statovci. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
In a 6,000 word essay for The Point, founding editor Jon Baskin wades into the personal and professional psychodrama of the Franzen–Wallace friendship. Beneath the public surface, finds deep questions about the “novel of the self,” the “novel of society,” and the life worth living.
For two weeks last summer, Colin Dickey sailed around the coast of Svalbard in the Arctic Circle. On one occasion, his voyage was stalled by heavy fog, and his group was obligated to anchor near Amsterdamøya. As one does, he used the occasion to ruminate about scurvy – or “polar night disease” – which claimed the lives of many sailors buried in the area’s graves.
Powell’s Books teamed up with Rogue Ales and Spirits to create White Whale Ale. “Infused with the seafaring spirit of Moby-Dick,” White Whale Ale is sure to please any beer drinker in your family this holiday season – even if they did skip the Cetology sections of Melville’s classic.
Mark Twain first rose to fame as the author of an essay about a frog-jumping contest in California. Originally titled “Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog,” the essay went viral in America’s biggest newspapers, eventually inspiring the New York Tribune to write of Twain that “no reputation was ever so rapidly won.” Yet the humor which made the essay so popular is often lost on modern audiences, in no small part because, as Ben Turnoff writes in Lapham’s Quarterly, frontier humor isn’t funny if there’s no Wild West.
“The easiest way to appear to be well-read is to socialize exclusively with uncultured cretins, which simply won’t do, so instead you should subscribe to the New York Review of Books and read it religiously, committing to memory one idea from each piece and praying to achieve a casual air when, at a dinner party, fobbing off this insight as your own.” Advice from Slate on how to appear well-read, with some bonus advice on how to actually become well-read, just for good measure.