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.”
New this week: The Age of Reinvention by Karine Tuil; The Burned Bridges of Ward, Nebraska by Eileen Curtright; Shock by Shock by Dean Young; The Selected Poems of Donald Hall; and On Cats by Charles Bukowski. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great Second-Half 2015 Book Preview.
For Public Books, Matthew Clair considers authoritative black knowledge in intellectual practices and “the logic of racial authenticity,” which “stipulates both that black intellectuals have a particular responsibility to represent, in both senses of that word, ‘their’ people, and that, as racial insiders, they are uniquely capable of doing so.”
The 2012 Costa Book Awards (PDF), which recognize books by writers in the UK and Ireland, were awarded yesterday in the Novel, First Novel, Biography, Poetry and Children’s Book categories. Interestingly, each category was won by a female author. Three cheers for Hilary Mantel’s Bring up the Bodies, Francesa Segal’s The Innocents, Mary M. Talbot’s Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes, Kathleen Jamie’s Overhaul, Sally Gardner’s Maggot Moon.
Lots of diet books among the new releases these days (in preparation for the post-holiday food guilt one assumes), but readers will also find a vibrant new “biography-in-collage” out this week, Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie, A Tale of Love and Fallout by Lauren Redniss.
Remember that time Amtrak offered a 10-day train residency, and the internet experienced a collective freakout because trains are literary catnip, and then we found out it was kind of a scam? Barnard Zine Library does, too. In honor of that cultural moment, they recently sponsored an “MTA Residency” that, while less glamorous, has already yielded beautiful work.