“In the new environment, science fiction writers needed new formulas – or even better, needed to have the courage to operate without pre-cooked recipes of any sort. In short, science fiction needed to grow up and take on the adult world, in all its messiness and uncertainty.” Ted Gioia pens a paean to sci-fi writers of the 1960s. Among his recommendations (including a reading list of 64 works): Camp Concentration by Thomas M. Disch, whose larger oeuvre is considered here.
In many of Queens' 62 library branches, copies of books are being borrowed are in Korean, Chinese or Spanish. A library branch in Astoria, responding to its own diverse readership, carries children’s books in Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Russian, Portuguese and Gujarati. Striving to cater to the intensifying globalization of its surrounding streets, the New York neighborhood library speaks your language as never before.
It’s not a commonly held opinion, but Hilary Mantel thinks Henry VIII was a romantic. In a brief interview with Jamie Sharpe, the Wolf Hall author dispels the common view of the oft-married king as a philanderer. “He thought that he had to shape his life and shape his kingdom for each woman,” she says. “Men didn’t think that way in those days.” You could also read Damian Barr’s interview with her at The Millions.
“At the train station in Cerbère, France, M. and I have survived the grueling hike on the Sentier de la Liberté Walter Benjamin.” For Catapult, Gwen Strauss writes about climbing the path that Benjamin used to flee the Gestapo, only to take his own life at its terminus. See also: Kyle Chayka's recommendation of The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction in our own pages just last week.
This year, the good folks at Slate and the Whiting Foundation kicked off a new literary prize, intended to reward authors for great second novels. To wrap up the year, they’ve asked several winners of the prize, including Akhil Sharma, Helen DeWitt and Daniel Alarcon, to write short pieces about objects that symbolize the writing process for their books. (Akhil Sharma chooses a stopwatch, while Eileen Myles chooses a can of Cafe Bustelo.)
Out this week: Eat Only When You’re Hungry by Lindsay Hunter; The Locals by Jonathan Dee; Rebellion by Molly Patterson; Red Light Run by Baird Harper; Darkansas by Jarret Middleton; and Double Portrait by Brittany Perham. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.