“It all adds up to a fascinating portrait-of-the-artist-on-the-make in the booming 1950s. And it makes you wish the stories were better.” Year-in-Reading alum Jess Walter reviews a new (911-page) collection of stories by Kurt Vonnegut. See also: “2 B R 0 2 B”, a “lost” Vonnegut story that first appeared in the sci-fi journal Worlds of If in January 1962.
Well, this is awkward. When the National Book Foundation announced its nominees last week for the Young People’s Literature category of the National Book Awards, they accidentally picked a book called Shine by Lauren Myracle when they really meant to pick Franny Billingsley’s Chime.
A basketball player gets kicked in the testicles and hundreds of news outets have to figure out how the heck to write about it: “Different outlets have different comfort levels when writing about the crotch. The New York Times, for example, threw idiomatic English out the door on first reference: ‘Exhibit A was that [Draymond] Green picked up a flagrant-1 foul — while hacked in the act of shooting — with 5 minutes 57 seconds left in the half by flailing a leg between those of Steven Adams, who wound up doubled over.'”
Over at The New York Times, Citizen author Claudia Rankine reviews Teju Cole’s new essay collection. As she puts it, “Cole attempts to untangle the knot of who or what belongs to us and to whom or what do we belong as artists, thinkers and, finally, human beings.” Pair with this Millions interview with Cole.
Perhaps inspired by the news, first reported a few years ago, that mad scientists in the Indian army plan to weaponize superhot chilis, Lauren Collins ventures bravely into the world of extreme heat. As a warning to readers who fancy themselves tough, she quotes a doctor who makes clear that these peppers aren’t just hot — they’re lethal.
“When you go to Narnia, your worries come with you. Narnia just becomes the place where you work them out and try to resolve them.” Lev Grossman writes for The Atlantic about The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and why fantasy isn’t escapism. Pair with our own Edan Lepucki‘s review of Grossman’s latest novel, The Magician’s Land.
You may have heard that X-Files star David Duchovny published a novel last week. The
book, which developed out of an idea Duchovny had in college, centers on a teenage cow named Elsie who befriends a Yiddish-speaking pig. At Salon, Anna Silman interviews the actor/author, who talks about his book’s allegorical nature and his rumored beef with Vancouver.