Out this week: Dinner at the Center of the Earth by Nathan Englander; Sourdough by Robin Sloan; Border by Kapka Kassabova; A Legacy of Spies by John le Carré; and Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
Benjamin Anastas has bid goodbye to the Twitter Village, and he thinks more writers should do the same. “There is a longing built into our online lives that can lead us to healthy attachments with multiple partners, a kind of polyamory of the mind, but it can also encourage the furtive transmission of waxed-chest photos and cock-shots,” he writes. “These are extreme examples of the kind of lonely misfires that Twitter allows, but I felt the temptation to seek comfort from my Twitter feed often enough to realize that it was only a matter of time before I did something embarrassing.”
“Internet reading takes up my time without my setting that time aside for it, and fills me with images and thoughts that I don’t perceive going in, like radiation… In these online minutes or hours, I drift along with my mouth open, absorbing whatever’s floating by, never chewing or even swallowing, just letting it all seep pre-chewed into me”: an elegant argument against reading about books before you read the books in question at Electric Literature. (But we hope you’ll continue to read The Millions anyway.)
In honor of Bloomsday, some recommended reading, listening, and playing: one-day diaries of four modern Blooms in New York, Radio Bloomsday’s seven hours of readings (by Alec Baldwin, John Lithgow, Jerry Stiller, Garrison Keillor, and others), even found poetry and an iPhone game drawn from the text of Ulysses. Oh, and–of course–James Joyce’s book itself.
“To use the lingo of their era, these novels are square. The protagonists have names like Jane and Barbara; they are not the misfits of which much teen literature is made but instead fundamentally good girls who long to fit in, and usually do … Viewed through the lens of contemporary culture, and especially contemporary teen lit, these girls should be boring and shallow. But Beverly Cleary’s supposedly ordinary girls are complex: resentful of their mothers one moment and sympathetic toward them the next, willing to do anything for one special boy but indignant when they’re taken for granted.” On the unexpectedly complex nature of Beverly Cleary’s boring protagonists with Ruth Graham at Slate.
The coming-of-age novel is a lot older than most of its protagonists. Gabriel Roth and sometime Millions contributor Kristopher Jansma will discuss the history of the genre at 7 p.m. on Monday, October 28 at the Center for Fiction in New York City. You can read Jansma’s past Millions essays on watching The Killing and searching for lost J.D. Salinger stories.
Not familiar with Zora Neale Hurston or just need to brush up in preparation for her birthday? Liz Dwyer has got you covered. “Through the #MeToo movement we’ve read the stories of how calling out sexual harassment and the patriarchy has ruined women’s careers. Similarly, Hurston was shunned and derided by many of her male compatriots in the Harlem Renaissance for creating one of the first strong, black, and sexually aware female protagonists of 20th century American fiction.” Hooked yet? After you finish, read this essay by our own Jeffrey Colvin on visiting Zora’s birthplace and his sister.