Casual readers and self-proclaimed Wild Things are probably not aware of Maurice Sendak’s deep love for the opera. Over at Artsy, Wallace Ludel explores the vivid, imaginative sets Sendak designed for about a dozen operas and ballets, as well as the author’s fascination with the stage. “In 1981, Sendak published Outside Over There, one of the only books he would publish during this period in which he was so dedicated to set design. It’s a dark story about a little girl named Ida whose infant sister is stolen by ladder-wielding goblins. Ida eventually distracts the goblins by playing her horn and saves her sister.”
The results of this year’s Goodreads Choice Awards are in, and a debut novelist took home Favorite Book of 2011 honors. Veronica Roth, author of Divergent, thanks her fans in this video. Other notable winners include Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 and Tina Fey’s Bossypants, which won the Best Fiction and Best Humor categories, respectively. (They were also reviewed on The Millions here and here, respectively.)
My book, The Late American Novel: Writers on the Future of Books is out today (more on that here), and also out this week is Joshua Foer’s (the latest of the Foer’s to throw his hat in the authorial ring) Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything, buzzed about food memoir Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef, a new look at the modern world’s most ubiquitous commodity James Gleick’s The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood, Library of America boxing anthology At The Fights: American Writers on Boxing, Mat Johnson’s Poe-inspired Pym, and Victoria Patterson’s This Vacant Paradise. New in Paperback: Sam Lipsyte’s The Ask and Chang-rae Lee’s The Surrendered.
Take a vicarious trip to China via a special issue of Ninth Letter, a literary and arts journal published by the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Including work by authors Madelaine Thien and Khaled Al Khamissi, the issue grew out of a residency sponsored by Sun Yat-sen University’s Center for English-language Creative Writing, the only such department of its kind in that country. Pair with this piece by Casey Walker about writing his novel Last Days in Shanghai, which is set in the boomtown of today’s new China.