Out this week: All the Lives We Never Lived by Anuradha Roy; Come with Me by Helen Schulman; The Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose; Hazards of Time Travel by Joyce Carol Oates; and Tell Them of Battles, Kings, and Elephants by Mathias Énard. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
Caleb Crain, author of American Sympathy: Men, Friendship, and Literature in the New Nation discusses the mixed feelings that a writer is subject to when it’s time to let go of a book.
Freedom the program might not actually be so freeing: “It has been argued that a chronic fever of distraction and fascination arrives on waves of Wi-Fi to stunt our attention spans, encouraging writers to paddle about, tweeting and liking, instead of striking out for deeper waters…” But maybe writers need distraction, after all. (Then again: a detox might do you good.)
“Can we ever pinpoint a person’s true identity? … How can we point to something in the world with complete accuracy, without also being meaninglessly redundant? Harpo’s answer to ‘who are you?’ is a visual-gag version of the Buddha’s infuriatingly honest answer to the same question. When asked who he was, he would say, gesturing to himself: I am thathagatha (the one who is like this).” On Groucho Marx, nihilism, and the destruction of comedy over at Slate.