by Janet Potter
If 21st-century technology has made public shaming easier, faster, and more random, it’s also made us all targets. This book makes it clear than anything you say or do can be held against you in a court of opinion, by people who don’t know anything about you, in perpetuity.1
by James McWilliams
The Reivers is a thematic wolf in sheep’s clothing, and remains one of the weightiest road-trip novels ever written.1
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Writing a sci-fi novel? Need some quick ideas for your fictional hellscape? Then you need Randomized Dystopia, a tool which suggests basic liberties that your imaginary dictators can suppress.
It’s a catchy idea: two rich Philadelphians, shut out of their family fortune, decide to gain new wealth by proving the existence of the Loch Ness monster. It’s the plot of At the Water’s Edge, the new book by Water for Elephants author Sara Gruen. Robert J. Wiersema reviewed the book in The Globe and Mail. Sample quote: “In most families, fleeing to Scotland to prove the existence of the Loch Ness monster would seem an odd thing to do in order to expiate a social faux pas and redeem the family honour, but the Hydes aren’t most families.”
In the late fifties, an old flame of Samuel Beckett, Ethna MacCarthy, fell ill and died of throat cancer in Dublin. Around this time, female voices began to enter Beckett’s work, which up until that point had featured almost exclusively male characters. Was there a connection? In a review of a new edition of Beckett’s letters, Fintan O’Toole suggests that there was. You could also read Elizabeth Winkler on the author’s bilingual oeuvre.
Jane Austen is a rare figure. Acclaimed as one of the most brilliant authors in modern history, she has a popularity that few of her peers can match, as evidenced by her posthumous sales and huge numbers of dedicated fans. How did her work hit the sweet spot of broad appeal and scholarly fame? In the WSJ, Alexander McCall Smith provides a theory. (h/t The Paris Review Daily)
“Memoirism is perfect if you’re new to autobiographical writing and want an easy and enjoyable way to tell your story without necessarily having to live it. The software allows you to create memories that appear up to 99% accurate, so you can focus on your home, school, or work.” On a revolutionary new writing tool.
Back in 2011, our founder C. Max Magee pointed to the fan art of Chris Ayers, who was inspired by DFW’s Infinite Jest. Now, Ayers has a new series, drawn from Margaret Atwood’s MaddAdam trilogy, that illustrates the corporate horrors of the trilogy’s fictional dystopia. Pair with Vanessa Blakeslee on Atwood’s In Other Worlds.
In 1958, the Indian writer Yashpal published the first installment of This Is Not that Dawn, an eleven-hundred-page novel and feminist epic written in Hindi. The book presages many of the biggest controversies affecting India today. At Page-Turner, Karan Mahajan reads the novel, explaining why he believes it to be “the greatest long novel about India.” Related: Mythilo G. Rao pays a visit to the Jaipur Literature Festival.
After five rounds, sixteen books and more hard choices than we can count, The Morning News has chosen this year’s champion of the Tournament of Books. Who won, you ask? (Here’s a hint: we’re pretty happy about it.)
Out this week: So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson; The World Before Us by Aislinn Hunter; Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not to Have Kids, edited by Meghan Daum; At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen; The Architect’s Apprentice by Elif Shafak; and The Harder They Come by T.C. Boyle. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great 2015 Book Preview. Support The Millions: Bookmark this link and start there when you shop at Amazon.
In her controversial book The Fall of Language in the Age of English, Minae Mizumura argues that English, thanks largely to its global predominance, threatens to lessen the diversity of expression in the world. At Bookslut, she tells interviewer Corinna Pichl about her book, her issues with lingua francas and things you can say in Japanese that you can’t say in English.
Recommended Reading: Sarah Sansolo on her childhood obsession with Britney Spears.
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Read More The Millions Top 10 February 2015
The Novel: A Biography Michael Schmidt
Station Eleven Emily St. John Mandel
My Brilliant Friend Elena Ferrante
The Bone Clocks David Mitchell
The Narrow Road to the Deep North Richard Flanagan
The Strange Library Haruki Murakami
All the Light We Cannot See Anthony Doerr
Dept. of Speculation Jenny Offill
Loitering: New and Collected Essays Charles D'Ambrosio