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  • You might think the signs would be obvious. The buildings are organic, the sky is filled with dragons, and everyone you talk to speaks languages you’ve never heard of. But you may still need some help figuring out your environs. Herewith, a few ways to tell if you’re in a high-fantasy novel.


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    ~Thomas Beckwith
  • In the past few years, we’ve seen a swell of books that focus on female friendship. The newfound popularity of writers like Elena Ferrante has given us a new wealth of books that explore this kind of relationship. At Salon, Dear Thief author Samantha Harvey examines why this is, as part of a larger discussion about her own novel and the literary landscape. You could also read our review of Harvey’s earlier novel The Wilderness.


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    ~Thomas Beckwith
  • “By now, you are probably asking yourself, Did these two ever talk about anything serious? Of course, we did. We talked about how writing a poem is no different from taking out a frying pan and concocting a dish out of the ingredients available in the house, how in poetry, as in cooking, it’s all a matter of subtle little touches that come from long experience or are the result of sudden inspiration.” Charles Simic writes movingly about his friend, the late poet Mark Strand, and their various schemes, from buying palazzos to founding a gastronomic poetry movement, for The New York Review of Books.


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    ~Kaulie Lewis
  • This week in lit news: VIDA, the organization that’s been counting appearances by women writers in major literary journals since 2010, will expand their 2014 count to include data on race/ethnicity.


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    ~Kaulie Lewis
  • Fun fact: Up until the late 1940s, science fiction novels really didn’t exist. Andrew Liptak writes about the rise of the paperback novel and the evolution of science fiction for Kirkus Reviews. Pair with Nichole Bernier‘s Millions essay on “The Point of the Paperback.”


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    ~Kaulie Lewis
  • Recommended recommendations: “Eight Excellent Literary Podcasts for Your Morning Commute.”


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    ~Kaulie Lewis
  • Following up on her latest book, On Immunity: An Inoculation, Year in Reading alum Eula Biss talks with Salon about “action movies, race, fear, violence and vaccination.” Pair with Kyle Boelte‘s Millions review of On Immunity.


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    ~Kaulie Lewis
  • Oscar Wilde: a “fatuous fool,” a “tenth-rate cad,” and an “unclean beast?” According to Henry James, all of the above.


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    ~Kaulie Lewis
  • “Driving hundreds of miles at a time… uncorked the forgotten joys of my undergraduate years—chief among them the fantasy that simply buying a book guarantees that it will get read.” Ted Trautman on going on a book-buying binge during a cross-country road-trip.


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    ~Kaulie Lewis
  • Nabokov played (and frequently wrote about) chess; J.K. Rowling plays Minecraft, though it has yet to appear in any kind of Harry Potter spin-off. And why shouldn’t she? After all, “there’s a long tradition of other authors turning to a variety of such games – mostly as light relief from their vocation, but also sometimes finding writerly inspiration.”


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    ~Kaulie Lewis
  • Riordan’s books prompt an uneasy interrogation of the premise underlying the ‘so long as they’re reading’ side of the debate—at least among those of us who want to share Neil Gaiman’s optimistic view that all reading is good reading, and yet find ourselves by disposition closer to the Tim Parks end of the spectrum, worried that those books on our children’s shelves that offer easy gratification are crowding out the different pleasures that may be offered by less grabby volumes.” In an essay for The New Yorker, Rebecca Mead considers questions about what children should be reading through the lens of the Percy Jackson series.


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    ~Kaulie Lewis
  • New at The Point: an incisive look at Don DeLillo’s Cosmopolis that calls it “the most prescient American novel of the past fifteen years” and asks,”is it possible to mount any meaningful resistance to capitalism on the level of culture?” The latest print issue features this essay as well as a symposium on privacy, and will be launched at a release party in Hyde Park on Saturday night.


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    ~Anne K. Yoder