Every decade or so, writes George Packer in his review of Dorian Lynskey’s The Ministry of Truth, it’s the same old line: “[George] Orwell got it wrong. Things haven’t turned out that bad. The Soviet Union is history. Technology is liberating.” But these arguments miss the point: “Orwell never intended his novel to be a prediction, only a warning.” For The Atlantic, Packer asks what 1984 means in today’s America.
What’s better than being a writer? A writer who gets paid. Manjula Martin and Jane Friedman have launched the new digital magazine Scratch, which gives writers information on how to advocate for their work. The preview issue is free and contains essays on what freelancers can learn from street vendors, Cord Jefferson on outgrowing his materialism, and an interview with Jonathan Franzen. You can subscribe here.
“Set in the 2020s and 2030s in a collapsing and crashed America, the Parables books have always seemed incredibly and disturbingly prescient—and in the wake of November 8, 2016 they now seem downright spooky, the actual and accurate history of the future.” How Octavia Butler predicted the present. See also: our consideration of Butler’s novel Kindred.
Anyone who’s ever forgotten a million-dollar idea will attest to the maddening tendency of the subconscious to forget things. For many people, this extends to dreams, where the best ideas can pop up and die before the morning. But why is it so difficult to remember them? At Salon, the neuroscience behind our chronic inability to remember dreams. Related: Blake Butler’s innovative Year in Reading piece.
We’ve already got several RSVPs for our NYC indie bookstore walking tour. Get all the details and RSVP if you want to be notified of any schedule changes.The Millions’ Collaborative Atlas of Book Stores and Literary Places is still being added to by our enterprising readers. London in particular is now bristling with points of interest including many bookstores and destinations like St Pancras’ Old Church, where you’ll find the graves of Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin.Wyatt Mason’s terrific profile of the poet Frederick Seidel is a must-read.Slate’s Troy Patterson describes the achievement of German sensation Wetlands in autoproctological terms.The William H. Gass site Tunneling posts some remarkable images of Gass’ home library, originally published in 2007 in St. Louis Magazine.L.J. Davis, financial journalist and author of the recently reissued novel A Meaningful Life, offers an insider’s look at house-flipping during booms… and busts.Is a two-novelist marriage sustainable? (from Canteen)And what’s up with J.D. Salinger these days, anyway? (via)Philip Hensher looks back at novels from the dawn of the Thatcher era.Can’t get enough of poet Nathaniel Bellows? Listen to him read.Is Barnes & Noble hoping to arrive better late than never to the ebook reader party?”Wendell Steavenson went looking for remorse among the men who served Saddam Hussein. Her fruitless search, George Packer writes, has produced one of the few lasting works to come out of the Iraq war.”Google gets even better at scanning books.Green Apple Books talks about “cool books we’ll never sell.”