At The Rumpus, Sequioa Nagamatsu discusses How High We Go in the Dark, his much-awaited debut novel told through interconnected first-person narratives about people living in a future beset by the Arctic Plague. Nagamatsu discusses the various media and books that were influential to his conception of the book, what eco-conscious novels can contribute to the environmental movement, and how he went about choosing the particular professions of the characters featured in this prophetic novel. “In thinking about how the world in my novel has been unhinged, I wanted to explore how society’s relationship with death, grief, and climate evolve while still staying close to the everyday movements and concerns of a person trying to hold onto life and move forward,” he says. “The professions I chose nodded at these societal evolutions while also giving me a rich basis for considering how their jobs would elevate or influence personal struggles. And for many of my characters, the pandemic simply highlighted or fast-tracked an existing problem or inner anxiety.”
A pair of big-name writers have new shorter-form ebook originals out. Stephen King’s Guns is a “pulls-no-punches essay” about gun violence in America, with all proceeds going to Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. Meanwhile, Richard Russo has a new novella, Nate in Venice.
Can’t wait for Haruki Murakami’s new novel? You’re in luck: Slate just published an exclusive excerpt from the book. Sample quote: “No matter how quiet and conformist a person’s life seems, there’s always a time in the past when they reached an impasse. A time when they went a little crazy. I guess people need that sort of stage in their lives.” (You could also read Ben Dooley’s review of 1Q84.)
Parentheses aren’t just the mark of a lazy or verbose writer. They can also bracket personal pain in a narrative. At The New York Review of Books, Christopher Benfey explores the power of the parenthetical detail, such as Lolita‘s “My very photogenic mother died in a freak accident (picnic, lightning) when I was three.” Pair with: Vulture’s “The 5 Best Punctuation Marks in Literature.”