by Sonya Chung
When I read Lampedusa the sun bursts up indeed, thawing all of that deeply seeded “puritanical horror,” and reconciling life forces that, as Lampedusa attempts to show us, were never meant to be opposed.0
by Jonathan Goldman
My first response to the new edition was to wonder whether it was an attempt to steer readers away from the unsavory aspects of the novel, a trigger warning-age sanding down of edges.7
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Mark O'Connell looks at Tommy Wiseau’s "The Room". the "Face-Palm Fresco Affair" and explores the secrets of viral fame.Buy for $1.99
Aimee Bender, Year in Reading alum and author of, most recently, The Color Master, writes for The New York Times about the structural genius of Goodnight Moon: “[The story] does two things right away: It sets up a world and then it subverts its own rules even as it follows them.”
In a piece for the Los Angeles Review of Books, Jonathan Farmer responds to the recent pieces in the New York Times that ask poets to debate the question “does poetry matter?” As Farmer points out, ” it’s a bit like asking a bunch of religious figures if religion matters,” but the conversation is worth following and pairs well with our own recent pieces on poetry’s power and popularity.
Now that the summer blockbusters are winding now, we can all focus on book-to-film adaptations. Kirkus Reviews has a list of new books that would make for great movies, some of which, like Christopher Beha‘s Arts & Entertainments, The Millions has reviewed. Pair with our dream casting of a film version of The Goldfinch.
Alice Bolin writes for The Believer about Joan Didion, Los Angeles, and Play It As It Lays. The novel was also listed as one of The Millions‘s “Burnt-out Summer Reads,” so if there’s ever a time to read it, it’s probably now.
“War veterans experience something called hypervigilance, a mental state of continual alertness for danger. I have a minor version of this, a writer’s version. For me, danger lies in the sound of a footstep, a spoken word. Anyone could destroy the fragile construction I have to make each day.” Roxana Robinson writes for VQR about the writer’s need for solitude. For more from Robinson, be sure to check out her essay for The Millions on Edith Wharton.
John Wilmot, second Earl of Rochester, was a dear friend (even protégé) of King Charles II. He was also a sharp-tongued poet who called out the same King on his bedroom behavior: “His sceptre and prick are of a length; / And she may sway the one who plays with th’other.”
The internet’s repository of Franz Kafka-inspired literary treats seems to have no bounds. This latest: his excellent short story “The Country Doctor” has been adapted by Japanese filmmaker Kōji Yamamura into a 20-minute animated film (subtitled). Kafka adaptations clearly aren’t going anywhere. Pair with our essay on the subtle art of rereading his most famous story.
Not every worthy book finds the audience it deserves as quickly as Edan Lepucki’s California. John Warner writes about the long aftermath of finding his debut, The Funny Man, featured in our 2011 Most Anticipated Book Preview: “I wondered, what if? Maybe this was going to be the next phase of my life, and when people asked me what I did, I’d say that I wrote novels.” His new collection of short stories is Tough Day for the Army.
In the world of selling books, it’s not all about the sentences. At Ploughshares, agent Eric Nelson argues: A fresh plot matters and unusual characters do, too. “The most interesting books have characters who do the opposite of what we’d do… Imagine Hamlet, if Hamlet took decisive action. Horror movies wouldn’t exist at all without the idiot who always suggests they split up.”
Yet another open archive for your summer reading enjoyment: the Baffler (“the Journal that Blunts the Cutting Edge”), as part of a website redesign, has made available its entire back catalog of commentary and fiction. Might I suggest starting with this now-charmingly-antiquated piece on marketing to the youthful “hipster” generation? (The Paris Review has other suggestions. It’s hard to go wrong.)
Recommended listening: Christopher Beha, whose latest novel Arts & Entertainments we recently reviewed, talks with On Pop Theology about his new book, Catholicism, What Happened to Sophie Wilder? and The Bachelorette.
Today in book-related graphics: The Arts Shelf has created an infographic measuring famous literature by word count, and The New York Times provides a handy, illustrated guide to any writers’ retreat, complete with authors’ cloisters and an “emergency idea generator.”
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Read More The Millions Top 10 June 2014
Beautiful Ruins Jess Walter
The Son Philipp Meyer
Bark Lorrie Moore
The Good Lord Bird James McBride
Just Kids Patti Smith
Americanah Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Eleanor & Park Rainbow Rowell
Jesus' Son Denis Johnson