“One reason presidents are drawn to the genre is surely its escapism — its promise to replace impossible decisions with comforting formulas.” For The New York Times, Craig Fehrman writes about United States presidents who have a predilection for mystery novels. If you need your mystery fix too, we have a list with five crime books with female detectives.
Members of the Word Reference forum contemplate the etymology and meaning of the “A” in the expression, “Fuckin’ A.” Elsewhere Geoffrey Nunberg, linguist and author of Assholism: The First Sixty Years, shares his take on the ubiquitous “a-word,” which he believes originated during World War II.
J. M. Coetzee has published The Good Story: Exchanges on Truth, Fiction and Psychotherapy with psychologist Arabella Kurtz, which details the five-year correspondence between the two. The letters offer “a rare opportunity to understand the mind of a writer who almost never speaks at length in his own voice.” For more of the Nobel laureate, read our review of The Childhood of Jesus.
At My Life and Thoughts, Elif Batuman–in delightfully Elifish style–describes her first book travails and unveils a preliminary sketch for the cover of her forthcoming first book The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them, drawn by New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast.
ICYMI: After Hachette writers banded together behind their publisher (piles of tweets, an author petition (pdf), a perplexing Malcolm Gladwell YouTube clip, and of course our own Edan Lepucki in Stephen Colbert’s pre-order campaign), Amazon proposed giving authors “100% of proceeds” from ebooks — that’s including Hachette’s share — while they hashed things out. You gotta admire that gumption. Halfway around the world, a French court order just banned free delivery for discounted book orders–so Amazon now charges one cent. Also: they’ve got drones. The Times concludes that if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.
The fall issue of Washington Square Review is now available online, featuring new work by Morgan Parker, Ron Padgett, Mariama Lockington, and interviews with Year in Reading alumnus Nick Flynn, Jenny Offill, Jericho Brown, and Henri Cole. Pair with this Millions profile of Flynn.