It seems fitting that the author of the first book explicitly banned in the United States should have the nickname the “Lord of Misrule.” At Atlas Obscura, Matthew Taub recounts the story of Thomas Morton, an English businessman who had a knack for riling up Puritans. “[Morton] revived forbidden old-world customs, faced off with a Puritian militia determined to quash his pagan festivals, and wound up in exile. He eventually sued and, like any savvy rabble-rouser should, got a book deal out of the whole affair. Published in 1637, his New English Canaan mounted a harsh and heretical critique of Puritan customs and power structures that went far beyond what most New English settlers could accept. So they banned it—making it likely the first book explicitly banned in what is now the United States.”
“João Gilberto Noll frustrates attempts to foresee the plot or to craft stories as they are traditionally understood and written. The series of events that appear in them are as tenuously linked into a broader narrative as those of a dream.” An interview with Noll translator Adam Morris.
You may remember the brouhaha surrounding Bustle, the first website in history to market primarily to women. Now, in this week’s New Yorker, Lizzie Widdicombe profiles the website, which she describes by pointing out that “[its] articles are modest, but the ambitions of its founder, a young Silicon Valley entrepreneur named Bryan Goldberg, are not.”
“The entire manuscript was written with the E-type bar of the typewriter tied down; thus making it impossible for that letter to be printed. This was done so that none of that vowel might slip in, accidentally; and many did try to do so!” Abe Books tells the tale of Gadsby, a self-published 50,000-word novel written without using the letter “e.” Its author, Ernest Vincent Wright, won some notoriety when he accomplished the feat – called a lipogram – in 1939, although it’s unlikely Wright could have foreseen that individual copies of his book would eventually fetch prices upward of $1,200. And if it’s literary hijinks you’re after, definitely read our own Anne Yoder on the work of Georges Perec, who wrote a lipogram of his own in 1969.
Out this week: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (who Angela Qian wrote about for The Millions in September); We Are Water by Wally Lamb; Aimless Love: New and Selected Poems by Billy Collins; Roth Unbound: A Writer and His Books by Claudia Roth Pierpont; and The Eternal Wonder, a recently discovered novel by Nobel laureate Pearl S. Buck. For more on these and other new books, check out our Great Second-half 2013 Book Preview.