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.”
“When you read these books—I suggest perusing them, martini in hand, while your children (or better your friends’ children, for whom you are babysitting) run around shrieking—you’ll see every parenting stance you’ve ever adopted, every parent-story trope you’ve ever told or heard, expressed more perfectly than you ever could have.” Dan Kois on Shirley Jackson’s two memoirs on parenting.
Out this week: Hunger by Roxane Gay; The Changeling by Victor LaValle; The Accomplished Guest by Ann Beattie; So Much Blue by Percival Everett; Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal; The City Always Wins by Omar Robert Hamilton; and Blind Spot by Teju Cole. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
Another week of literary contests has whittled the Tournament of Books field down to four: Freedom, A Visit From the Goon Squad, Next, and The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. Today, the team offers more analysis, previewing and recapping. Up next: the semis, the Zombie round, and the grand finale.
Part Into the Wild, part Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Howard Axelrod’s The Point of Vanishing is the story of his two years spent in profound solitude in the Vermont wilderness. Called “torture” by prison rights activists and “a threat to mental stability” by psychologists, Axelrod’s decision to sequester himself from society was nothing if not extreme. Alexander Supertramp would be proud.