Out this week: Circe by Madeline Miller; Heads of the Colored People by Nafissa Thompson-Spires; And Now We Have Everything by Meaghan O’Connell; Though I Get Home by YZ Chin; Sharp: The Women Who Made an Art of Having an Opinion by Michelle Dean; Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives edited by Viet Thanh Nguyen; and Black Swans by Eve Babitz.
Recommended Reading: The New York Times’s feature on Dana Spiotta. “When Dana Spiotta was working on her fourth novel, Innocents and Others, she sat beneath a huge bulletin board pinned with her sticky notes and research materials: lists of relevant words (passion, transformation, intimacy) and ‘seeing’ devices (zoetrope, stereoscope, camera obscura), and photographs of Orson Welles, Jean-Luc Godard and the Maysles brothers. ‘It’s like walking into the book,’ Spiotta told me. ‘You feel it all around you.’” To prepare for her upcoming release, revisit our review of Stone Arabia.
In literature and film, there are epic heroes, Campbellian heroes, romantic heroes and tragic heroes. Less well-known is the Byronic hero, whose personality is rakish, extravagant and otherwise similar to Lord Byron. At the Ploughshares blog, a literary blueprint of the archetype. You could also read Jennifer Egan on Byron’s Don Juan.
Debut short story writer Matthew Vollmer gets some love.For those left baffled by descriptions of “the Purdie shuffle” in last week’s New Yorker and New York Times, the mighty Bernard “Pretty” Purdie offers a demonstration.At the International Edible Book Festival, you can chase down your Remembrance of Things Pasta with some Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Bread (via The Book Bench)Despite (or because of?) its compassionate ecumenicalism, Sana Krasikov’s One More Year wins the Jewish Book Council’s Sami Rohr Prize.A 1979 cover letter from then-unknown Kazuo Ishiguro, re: the story “Getting Poisoned.” Bonus features: Hemingwavian brevity, grease stains.The New York Times Magazine’s editor ponders the fate of long-form journalism……while Vanity Fair questions the Times’ relentless interactivity.Stephen King, once thought to be considering retirement, has been as prolific as ever, now announcing the November publication of a 1,120-page novel, Under the Dome, about a town that has been sealed off by an invisible force field.The Complete Review turns 10!30 Poets/30 Days: a celebration of children’s poetry”Notes and Errata” on D. T. Max’s profile of David Foster Wallace “The Unfinished.” (via kottke)Kassia Krozser says “Enough With The Smell of Books, Okay?” about the olfactory argument in the ebooks debate.William Zinsser on writing On Writing Well and keeping it up-to-date for 35 years.Google poses a literary stumper.
“Why do we lust for lists?” Sandra M. Gilbert may not have an answer, but she does have a response to all those “100 Best American Novels” lists (and a list of her own). The Millions has a few lists too, of course – be sure to check out Janet Potter‘s “28 Books You Should Read If You Want To.”