At the L.A. Times, take an interactive tour of Octavia Butler’s Los Angeles—in particular, discover the public libraries that the award-winning sci-fi writer referred to as her second home. “Butler was a voracious reader, checking out any title that remotely piqued her interest. ‘I taste books, taste knowledge and for that matter, taste life experiences as some people taste wine or food.’” Butler wrote her first novel, Patternmaster, at Los Angeles Public Library’s Central branch, where she also volunteered as a tutor. “When asked her reason for applying, she wrote, ‘I want to help.’” The online map features photographs of the Parable of the Sower and Kindred author’s library call slips, writing notebooks, personal journals and more.
In a piece for Public Books Rebecca Steinitz reviews some recent historical novels, including The Luminaries and The Invention of Wings, and argues that the best historical fiction “plunges the reader wholly into the past, enlightening and entertaining us, while also making us reflect on our present, in history and in literature.” Pair her piece with Laila Lalami‘s account of “How History Becomes Story.”
Over at Catapult, Benjamin Wood writes about his eulogy for his grandfather, which led to his writing of The Ecliptic. As he puts it, “Or maybe, in this time of grieving, I was thinking only with my heart until my head began to listen. Today, it seems as though the entirety of The Ecliptic was held within my consciousness before I ever glimpsed a piece of it, and grief was what enabled me to notice.” Pair with Nagihan Haliloğlu’s Millions review of the novel.
Out this week: The Last Kid Left by Rosecrans Baldwin; The Answers by Catherine Lacey; Dear Cyborgs by Eugene Lim; Perennials by Mandy Berman; Everybody’s Son by Thrity Umrigar; and The Gypsy Moth Summer by Julia Fierro. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.