Doppelgängers ran rampart in literature long before the Internet made identity theft a daily occurrence. For the Guardian, Laurence Scott recounts the best books featuring doppelgängers, from Shakespeare to Agatha Christie and Philip Roth to Joanna Kavenna. “There are many ways to steal a face, and not all of them rely on the supernatural,” Scott writes. “The string of murderous misadventures in Patricia Highsmith’s 1950s novel The Talented Mr. Ripley depend on Ripley’s ability to impersonate the privileged Dickie Greenleaf. Here, a lack of technology perpetuates the hoax. In a world before it was possible to verify someone’s identity online, a passing resemblance to Greenleaf’s passport photo and a knack with signatures allow Ripley to draw money from his account and take over the dead man’s life.”
New this week: The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud, A Guide to Being Born by Ramona Ausubel, NOS4A2 by Joe Hill, and three newly translated books from by Icelandic author Sjón: The Blue Fox, The Whispering Muse, and From the Mouth of the Whale. New in paperback is The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers.
“The day after we elected Donald Trump, I told my daughter the truth: This was the wrong choice. I am devastated. I am furious. And I am sorry, because you deserve better.” Nicole Chung with some beautiful words over at Buzzfeed (q.v. also Mira Jacob (“Here’s What I’m Telling My Brown Son About Trump’s America”) and Manuel Gonzalez (“I Will Teach My Children To Survive The New America”).
The Morning News Tournament of Books is almost here, and to stoke our excitement, the editors drew up this neat-looking circular bracket. If you squint at the top left, you’ll see our own Edan Lepucki, who’s judging The Round House by Louise Erdrich and The Fault in our Stars by John Green.
In the Fall 2015 issue of n+1, Adam Ehrlich Sachs explores the idea of inherited disorders through nine short pieces. An excerpt: “He wanted the reader to think to himself: ‘I just read about the Holocaust. Why am I picturing this fern? What is the matter with me?’ Such was the literary effect he was aiming for.”
Eric Benson interviewed Bruce Jackson about “the strange and brutal world of Southern prison farms.” Jackson, who recently published a collection entitled Inside the Wire, snapped prison photographs in Texas and Arkansas from 1964 to 1979. The images depict both the mundane and the surreal, occasionally appearing as though they were “taken from a fever dream.”