Out this week: Forest Dark by Nicole Krauss; Katalin Street by Magda Szabó; Letters to Memory by Karen Tei Yamashita; Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke; Affections by Rodrigo Hasbún; A Loving, Faithful Animal by Josephine Rowe; After the Flare by Deji Bryce Olukotun; and Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
“Are you sure you need to give me that summer reading list-library flyer-academic camp brochure? Are you sure that I can’t just let my kids get dumber by 1/3rd until they come back here in the fall like we all used to?” Are you sure there isn’t anything I can do? Welcome to every teacher’s nightmare, courtesy of McSweeney’s.
“My mind flashed that disembodied jaw at me in a jaw’s version of full color; a dirty white that bone and snow agree on.” This piece of original short fiction from Kashana Cauley at The Daily Beast will make you never want to set foot in a Hermés store–or even just shop on Black Friday.
The Economist gives a succinct explanation of “why books come out in hardback before paperback,” but their answer feels almost too simple. For a fuller understanding of the paperback / hardback question, pair The Economist‘s article with Nichole Bernier‘s Millions piece on “The Point of the Paperback.”
Putting aside for a moment the racist phrenological roots of the terms “highbrow” and “lowbrow,” here’s an interesting conversation on what the difference between them means for literature now. For a historical take, check out this graphic from a 1949 edition of LIFE magazine, which taught me a real gentleman wears fuzzy tweed, and iceberg lettuce is never in style.
“I cannot help feeling, on being invited to contextualize my own fiction, that the least qualified person possible has been asked. It is more still: hesitance, dread, that as a blind man in a failing aircraft I have been offered the yoke. I imagine it is the same for other writers, for the very fact that you write a story, and not a critical essay, suggests that near everything you hope to say lies outside the bounds of explicit statement.” Despite all that, here’s an essay by Greg Jackson at Granta in which he attempts to contextualize his own fiction.
Looking to get into Philip Roth? Not sure where to start in the perennial Nobel favorite’s massive ouevre? Thankfully, the novelist Gabriel Roth is here, swooping in with the only guide you’ll ever need. He explains why Portnoy’s Complaint made the splash it did, why Goodbye, Columbus put Roth on the map, and why the character of David Kepesh is critical to understanding Roth’s legacy. Related: Keith Meatto picks out ten lessons from the author’s work.