Out this week: The King Is Always Above the People by Daniel Alarcón; In the Midst of Winter by Isabel Allende; The Kites by Romain Gary; Blood Brothers by Deanne Stillman; The Art of Loading Brush by Wendell Berry; and a new edition of our own Garth Risk Hallberg’s A Field Guide to the North American Family. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
“I would argue that decent books coverage in a daily newspaper — especially when it’s presented in such a way that readers are likely to stumble over it and discover titles they might not otherwise have heard of — is more supportive of writers in the long run than a scholarship program.” At Salon, Laura Miller explores literary culture and the downsides of the MFA, which include teaching high school.
What would happen if you had a clock to countdown the exact number of days until you died? Our own Mark O’Connell discovers the paranoia of having the Days of Life app measure his mortality at The New Yorker. “Days of Life functions like a reductio ad absurdum of the logic of personal productivity. The pie chart becomes a special way of being afraid: an image of the self as a micro-economy of numbered days.” For a more uplifting version of O’Connell, check out his 2013 Year in Reading post.
“Sometimes I fear that Midwestern authors are seen from a similar vantage point: that many of us are ‘fly-over writers’ to whom readers wave (or just ignore completely) as they make their way to Saul Bellow and Stuart Dybek and Marilynne Robinson. I fear that these bigger names, along with a few others (Charles Baxter, Lorrie Moore), are seen as exceptions to the general rule that little of cultural worth grows in this flat, middle stretch of the country.” On the plight of the literary Midwesterner.