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by Phineas Taylor Barnum and Roland Barthes and Julia de Burgos and Pamela Druckerman and Deanna Fei and Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Edward Field and Rose George and Allen Ginsberg and Alison Gopnik and Robert J. Gordon and Sarah Greenough and Lee Gutkind and Dan Harris and Donovan Hohn and Gish Jen and Ben Jonson and Chris Lear and Ross Macdonald and Jeff Pearlman and Thomas Percy and Lizzie Skurnick and Anna Deavere Smith

Of Mondegreens and Eggcorns: Language Keeps Talking About Itself 1

Language flexes and adapts. It knows it will be both mangled and elevated, depending on who wields it -- quite often by the same person.

John Morris and His Astonishing Century 0

My inventory led to an unassailable conclusion: not all that much has changed in my lifetime, really, and certainly not in the fundamental ways my grandfather’s day-to-day life changed.

A Year in Reading: Lilliam Rivera 0

If I’m not reading at least two books at a time I’m failing somehow.

A Year in Reading: Hamilton Leithauser 2

Elizabeth Bishop is inspired. I read her when I feel uninspired.

A Year in Reading: Bridgett M. Davis 0

The best books I’ve read this year are themselves a prescient compilation, a kind of personalized, serial guidebook for the new world order we now inhabit.

A Year in Reading: Emily St. John Mandel 2

The premise is harrowing, the prose is stark and beautiful, the plotting is impeccable, and there's something utterly heartbreaking in El Akkad's subtle rendition of the ways in which war shapes the human soul.

A Year in Reading: Edan Lepucki 7

Lew Archer’s assessments of women — “Legs still good. Mouth still good.” — continued to rankle, and I began to collect these instances…for what, I am not yet sure. Maybe as a reminder that this way of seeing females is historical, at least half a century old. It is also our inheritance. And it persists.

A Year in Reading: Sofia Samatar 1

This was a year of books of marvelous disappearance.

The Other Folio: On the Legacy of Ben Jonson 1

Outside of academic circles, where there has been a resurgence in interest, Jonson is a distant third in the contemporary popular imagination about the time period, after canonical William Shakespeare and sexy Christopher Marlowe.

What We're Reading 0

From haikus to a macroeconomic treatise on American industrialism – with lots of novels and story collections in between, of course – here's what we're reading.

Most Anticipated, Too: The Great Second-Half 2016 Nonfiction Book Preview 8

Break out the beach umbrellas and the sun block. It’s shaping up to be a very hot summer (and fall!) for new nonfiction.

Years with Yoko 1

Art is a conversation between you and someone you’ve probably never met, and that conversation can continue for so long.

Awaiting the Next Revival: In Search of Isabel Bolton 0

Isabel Bolton has fallen into obscurity a second time. How and why does this happen? What accounts for the failure of a work to catch hold, in spite of outstanding reviews?

A Year in Reading: Kate Harding 29

As a 21st-century ranty feminist, I like to think I'm above all that, and yet there's my actual reading list from the past year: A bunch of white women, and one mixed-race man.

A Year in Reading: Rachel Eliza Griffiths 0

Here, quickly, are some more titles, both old and new, that changed me, whether by their grief, their beauty, their joy, their violence, their ambition, their desire, their imagination, their history, or future, but always, by their truth and courage.

A Year in Reading: Summer Brennan 0

What rough and bloviating beast, with fake tan and tawny comb-over, slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

A Year in Reading: Katie Coyle 7

In every one of these books I looked for, and in nearly all I found, shades of the awful, comforting truth: everyone despairs; nearly everyone survives.

A Year in Reading: Rebecca Carroll 1

This memoir is so starkly, poignantly written, so smart and wrenching, and I just had a truly visceral response to both the story and to Fei's fierce, plain mother love throughout.

A Year in Reading: Vinson T. Cunningham 1

For the first time since I was a kid, I found myself reading almost desperately, reading as a purposeful means of escape. I guess I’d forgotten how effective and merciful an analgesic it can be to leave your own imagination and pick up somebody else’s.

Hanging 'Em Up: On Reading About (and Not Watching) Sports 3

All of this would suggest that I’m a boxing fan, one of those old-timey cigar-chewers eager to overlook the sport’s myriad problems and mainstream insignificance in order to enjoy its brutal purity. But despite boxing’s outsize presence in my reading, I’m not particularly interested in it.

And Then We Pick: On Ed Caesar's 'Two Hours: The Quest to Run the Impossible Marathon' 0

Seconds don’t come cheap in elite racing, and the two-hour marathon, at least when Caesar was writing his book, was still 218 seconds away.

Tuesday New Release Day: Ball; Vásquez; Samson; Ginsberg & Ferlinghetti; Kushner 0

Pants on Fire: The Genre That Cannot Be Named 4

Inventing one composite kid from two could make the story stronger. Certainly it would make writing the story easier for me. I come in part from cheating stock — thieves, adulterers, at least two murderers, as far as I know. I was curious: Could I be a cheater, or, more precisely, a compositor, too?

There Must Be a German Word for That: Language for Writers and Readers 13

There are a host of moments in the life of a writer/reader that require their own special words. I'd settle for acronyms. We can do this, people! Our tribe came up with Franzenfreude, after all.

Edan Lepucki and Bill Morris on the Road to Publication 6

"Four titles, four agents, at least a dozen drafts, and more rejections than I care to count..."

David Du-cow-vny 0

Maybe His Advice Isn’t So Great After All 0

Lost Irish Film Recovered 1

Édouard Levé’s “Monstrous Paradox.” 0

July Books: Reading for the Month of Revolutions 0

Here is a list of suggested reading for the heat and upheaval of July.

The History of the Blurb 0

The Scourge of the Peloton: On Tim Krabbé's The Rider 0

In honor of the Tour de France, taking to the couch with Tim Krabbé's sports classic.

New Ishiguro: The Buried Giant 0

Beware the Potterverse 0

Performance Anxiety: When Poets Read Aloud 14

Why do some poets perform as though they had just come to in a bad dream?

Where Every Novel Takes Place 0

The Art of the Opening Sentence 23

Opening sentences are not to be written lightly.

Tuesday New Release Day: Yanique; Vollmann; Cheshire; Makkai; Sweterlitsch; Chancellor; Hellenga; Brown; Thorpe; Baricco; Lawson; Lepucki 0

Jane at 40 0

Most Anticipated: The Great Second-Half 2014 Book Preview 19

At over 8,000 words strong and encompassing 84 titles, this is the only second-half 2014 book preview you will ever need.

Poems in Extremity 0

Looking from Across the Room: An Interview with Rebecca Makkai 1

I want everything to theoretically have some kind of an explanation, but at the same time there’s this question of luck – can you really have that much good luck or bad luck, or does it at some point start to feel supernatural?

The real Susan Orlean diet 0

Tuesday New Release Day: Gould; Foster; Netzer; Sohn; Rotert; Jacob; Canobbio; Wallace; Weil; Beckett 0

Is This Really Real Life? Christopher Beha's Arts & Entertainments 2

Eddie, the main character, no longer wants to be a protagonist. He simply wants to no longer feel like a failure, which is a pretty good definition of adulthood at this moment.

Mystery and Manners: On Teaching Flannery O’Connor 9

The sheer originality of Flannery O'Connor's stories shows students how amplifying their surrounding world can make great fiction. Now, 50 years after her death, when she is a staple of syllabi and the very canon that previously excluded her and other women, it is most important to stress fresh approaches to her work within the classroom.

Rowling on “the Literati.” 0

“This is the biography of a book.” 0

E-Reading: Up. E-Readers: Down. 0

Raymond Chandler’s Hollywood Star 2

Betting on Quality: On One Story Collected 1

If One Story Collected is a stethoscope to the heart of contemporary American fiction, the news is good: despite a run of economic shocks to the publishing industry, the muscle that pumps fresh blood into the system is still beating like a tom-tom.

McCann: Reading, Writing and Soccer 0

Are You My Mother? On Maternal Abandonment in Literature 7

Literature is full of disappearing mothers.

Alternate Routes: A Summer Reading Itinerary 1

I never can quite fathom summer’s end at its start, and so my reading lists stretch on endlessly, too, crammed with long novels too unwieldy for the demands of other seasons.

Interview interviews, Vacationers vacation, etc., etc. 0

Tuesday New Release Day: Ng; Kwok; Moses; Scheft; Ahmad; Fitzgerald 0

Lolita, in the Margins 0

A Prologue to the Literary History of the First World War: War Poets at the Ballet 3

Did Marsh, Thornycroft, Sitwell, Sassoon, and the Thomases all come together for an evening at the ballet—and am I the first to notice?

“A record encapsulating all that is America” 0

The Sounds of New York 0

“I’ve escorted two e-partners to the edge of the grave” 0

New Marilynne Robinson On the Way 0

Style and the Man: On Adam Begley’s Updike 9

If you are going to make major claims for Updike as a writer, as Begley wishes to do, you must show how Updike’s style and his cosmology correspond, and you must give an account of the effects that style produces.

Only Spinning Forward: On the Commercial Viability of LGBTQ Literature 10

Gay is the new vampire. Everywhere in YA fiction, boys are kissing boys, girls are sidling up against the captains of their swim teams, and queer kids are getting cute. Yet there’s a tremendous disconnect between what’s happening in the YA marketplace and what’s going on with adult fiction.

A Piano Quartet 0

While the following three piano-themed books — Alan Rusbridger’s Play it Again, Thomas Bernhard’s The Loser, and Murray Bail’s extraordinary The Voyage — are all inexplicably devoid of sniper rifles, they do present slightly more nuanced takes on perfection and its discontents.

Tuesday New Release Day: Eggers; Gaiman; Murphy, Upadhyay; Hastings 0

Home as a Verb: Writers on Choosing to Live Overseas 7

Growing up all over the place makes you skilled at adapting, but it also makes you hungry to belong, something that in part motivates my writing: carving out a space I know, trying to understand what I’m witnessing around me.

You're a Wizard, Julia: Getting to Know 20-Time Jeopardy! Champion Julia Collins 0

As Alex Trebek said during the introduction to her 21st game, “We have a wonderfully delightful, friendly champion in Julia Collins. Until she gets into a game, then she becomes relentless.”

The World Cup of Tabs 0

Paddington Gets a Trailer 0

Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline: The New Jersey Poems of Timothy Walsh 0

When the World Was Rear-Wheel Drive understands that loss is imminent and inevitable, and that the things we have lost are beyond retrieval. That’s what makes it so painful, and so lovely.

Mad Men: It's All About Family Values 4

If Mad Men is itself a kind of advertisement -- a reflection and dramatization of our deepest desires, the ones we didn’t know we had -- then its message is both timeless and markedly modern: family is everything; we are hungry for family; your “real” family are, simply, the people who actually know you.

Kiran Nagarkar: Language, Lore, and Lack of Sales 2

Nagarkar has said in multiple interviews that he doesn’t want to do the same thing twice. And in challenging himself as a writer, he is challenging his readers as well, tackling religion, history, and current events no matter who might take offense.

Sad, Strange Brilliance: On Tove Jansson and Moomin 4

In Moomin, I didn’t stumble upon a strange new universe; I found an atmosphere that matched the strangeness I already felt inside.

Unrecommended Reading 0

The Art of the Epigraph 9

I didn't have a great need to write that story, but the quote would have fit it so perfectly I actually have an unfinished draft somewhere in my discarded Word documents.

Tuesday New Release Day: Rachman; Card; Winton; Conn; Dugan; Pritchett; Flynn; Yejide 0

June Books: A Reading List for the Month of Rituals 0

June is overflowing with matrimony -- but it's also the home of another modern ritual, graduation day -- or, as it's more evocatively known, commencement, an ending that's a beginning.

To read or NA to read 0

The Escape of North Korea’s Poet Laureate 0

The Pope of Trash Tours America 0

We Came From A Free People: On Roxane Gay's An Untamed State 0

These are evil men, but Gay makes certain that we never forget that they are men, made of the same hope and fury and flesh as us.

Celebration Capitalism: On the World Cup and Brazil’s Dance with the Devil 0

Zirin asserts that large-scale events like the Olympics and the World Cup offer countries like Brazil the perfect opportunity to install neoliberal economic policies that their publics would otherwise never authorize.

The Next Language to Try 0

Just a Taste of the Kingdom: Gonçalo M. Tavares’s A Man: Klaus Klump 1

Tavares, with language uncorrupted by sentiment and attachment, is in search of the secret order of mankind.

Tuesday New Release Day: Koch; Shin; Henríquez, Foulds, Walsh, O'Neill; Dybek 0

Keep the Laurus Nobilis Flying: Edward St. Aubyn's Lost for Words 5

The Booker shortlist and the eventual winners have been decried for being too populist, too elitist, too imperialist, too predictable. Edward St. Aubyn's new novel, Lost for Words, is a briskly readable satire on the annual circus.

The Past Will Never Be Past: On A Detroit Anthology 3

But the thing I wanted to do with this anthology was get past the stance that we’re going to explain this city. I wanted to get the candid conversations Detroiters have with other Detroiters -- diverse and true and candid conversations people have at a dinner table or in a bar.

Communicating Her Truth: Remembering Maya Angelou 0

As well as showing us pain that in fiction would be unbearable, by having the courage to write memoir, Angelou also shared hope that in fiction would be implausible.

“Albertine says she does not know.” 0

Christopher Lee's Metal Take on Don Quixote 0

"Scatter[ing] lightning and lawn debris across your psyche." 0

The Transformation and Legacy of Soho Press 0

For Bronwen, joining Soho has become a way to keep her mother closer than she ever thought she could. A book will come up that she remembers her mother reading or acquiring. She’ll stumble across books or a note with her mother’s handwriting. She’s surrounded by hundreds of thousands of pages of her mother’s work and passion.

Frank O'Hara: 21st Century Poet? 0

If No One Sees It, Is it Still Art? On Finding Vivian Maier 10

The documentary Finding Vivian Maier recently joined the burgeoning conversation about its titular subject, a reclusive Chicago nanny whose collection of street photography was discovered at a storage auction shortly before her death in the form of thousands of undeveloped rolls of film.

How the Novel Made the World 0

Book Clubs Mean Business 11

Jenna Blum, whose debut novel became a New York Times bestseller four years after its release, visited with as many as three book clubs a day (an estimated of 800 total), and calls her book a “poster child” for the influence of book clubs on a book’s success.

Jack Kerouac's Journals 1

Whitman Illuminated 0

55 Thoughts for English Teachers 30

You need to love words. You don’t need to love a certain type of book or a particular writer, but you need to love letters and phrases and the possibilities of language. You will spend most of your days dealing with words, and students can sense if words do not bring you joy.

Tuesday New Release Day: Knausgaard; Straub; Zentner; Collins; Bird; Henderson; Hopkins 0

“Friedlander’s portraits do not feel celebratory” 0

"It takes time." 0

The Survivor: On Magneto, Mutants, and the Holocaust 14

You can read Magneto as the nightmare of every post-1945 Jewish humanist. He is the Jew who lost the soulful liberalism of the Yiddishkeit, and who has allowed the Holocaust to turn him into everything he despises. He is the Jew who will bomb Gaza and say, with some credibility, that it is for defense while privately acknowledging a pleasure in revenge. He is the Jew who has allowed the Holocaust to instill in him a debilitating paranoia.

Seeing the Birds Through the Trees 1

My new binoculars stowed in my backpack, my birding journal scribbled with a few preliminary notes, and I was ready for my inaugural adventure. I biked into Prospect Park with only a vague idea of where to go, and I was still a little mystified about how one actually finds birds.

Fifty Shades of Sociological Commentary 0

Poetry's Lost Amateur Hour 0

Tuesday New Release Day: St. Aubyn; Dyer; Nelson; Lane; O'Donnell; Zeh; Tolkien 0

The Press Novel: From Scoop to Amy Rowland’s The Transcriptionist 1

“But do you think it’s a good way of training oneself — inventing imaginary news?” “None better.”

Trigger Warning: Literature 1

Weltschmerz 0

Karen Russell Reads Sleep Donation 0

This Post Reads Like Mad Libs. 0

Thug: A Life of Caravaggio in Sixty-Nine Paragraphs 11

He never had a chance. Three men held him down while a fourth sliced his face. Afterwards, he was almost unrecognizable. They could have killed him but they wanted him to live, bearing his scars for the rest of his life. Everyone would know what that meant.

Paolo Sorrentino: Old is Young, and Late is Late 2

I mention Sorrentino’s age -- his relative youth, for an artist so accomplished -- because what I have found most intriguing in his work is the character vehicle he’s chosen, time and again, for his explorations: the aging male in his unlovely twilight.

The Literature of the Standing Desk 4

The standing desk has entered its heyday. It’s changing the cubicle skyline of corporate America, the open-plan shared workspaces of the startup world, and the studios and work nooks of thousands of writers across the country.

Reach the Rafters: On Literary Sentiment 5

If sentimentality is a sin, it is only because feeling can be so beautiful. One moment of sentiment in literature is worth a thousand failures.

No Lie 0

Nathaniel P. Gets the Fanfic Treatment: On Adelle Waldman's "New Year's" 2

Everyone has had a close relationship that works better as a friendship than as a romance, and at some half-drunken moment of intimacy, everyone has wondered why. “New Year’s” seems a story poised to answer this very human question, and then, for some reason, it simply doesn’t.

Overheard 0

Tuesday New Release Day: Ferris; Khakpour; Fierro; Hemmings; Mosley; Boyden; Melnik; Ma; Johnston 0

Lee Zacharias Writes Again: On The Only Sounds We Make 2

"We are all just passing through,” Zacharias reminds us. “It is what we remember of the journey that we possess."

Paradox of Choice 0

The Millions Top Ten: April 2014 0

In a big shake-up, six books graduate to the Hall of Fame and we have a new number one.

The Other Kind of Country People: On Katherine Faw Morris's Young God 0

Young God is a strong entry in the tradition of the Southern Gothic Novel (redneck noir subcategory), but, while reading it and after watching True Detective, I began to wonder if the genre still has any explanatory power for contemporary America.

New Miranda July Work on the Way 0

The Worst Book Review Ever 22

While professional duty compels me to deliver judgment on the work at hand, I cannot in good conscience reveal the title, author or any identifying details about its plot for fear that some perverse soul might be tempted to go out and buy it.

The Starting Six: On the Remarkable Glory Days of Iowa Girls Basketball 24

Girls basketball was part of the culture. Each spring the TV broadcasts from the capacity crowds at the state’s largest arena in Des Moines took over one of the three stations our antenna received, and it was largely from these games that I learned the names of small town Iowa: Grundy Center, Montezuma, What Cheer.

Fitzgerald Uncensored 0

May Books: A Reading List for the Month of Love 2

Unlike the storms of March and the "uncertain glory" of April, Shakespeare's May, with its "darling buds," is always sweet, and ever the month for love.

What To Expect When 30 Women Write About Giving Birth: On Labor Day: True Birth Stories by Today’s Best Women Writers 0

There’s nothing watered-down about the stories in this volume: they are blunt, wistful, confessional, wise, loving, sorrowful, witty and sometimes eerie.

For the Love of the Game: Poker in Nonfiction 2

As a breezy and sarcasm-soaked account of one man’s very unsuccessful attempt to repeat what McManus accomplished in 2000, The Noble Hustle does not earn a rightful place in a tradition begun by Alvarez and continued by McManus.

Tastemaker 0

Shakespeare's Greatest Play? 5 Experts Share Their Opinions 17

William Shakespeare's 450th birthday is upon us, and at The Millions we wanted to celebrate it in 21st century American style, by debating which of his 38 plays is the best.

Bringing Salinger To the Big Screen 0

"That shit was too white." 0

Bard’s Bard 0

A Life’s Recipe 0

Harvard University Press's Redistribution of Wealth 0

Dubliners 100 0

A Beautiful Man: On Peter Parker and the Amazing Spider-Man 4

The problem with Spider-Man is the same problem with all popular comics heroes. Eventually, after several hundred issues, he hit a moment of stasis in which he stopped evolving, stopped discovering the strange hidden facets of his personality.

New Octavia Butler 0

Collared or Untied: Reflections on Work in American Culture 0

Start-ups offer unlimited vacation, but with the implicit understanding that you’ll bring your laptop with you. And there might be foosball in the office, but there’s also a fold-out couch so you don’t have to go home to sleep. Your CEO and you both wear the same company-branded t-shirt, but only one of you is going home to the multi-million-dollar house.

Gigantic Film News 1

Meanwhile, in a Dark Forest: On Jonas T. Bengtsson’s A Fairy Tale 0

A Fairy Tale is a fascinating and often brutal meditation on alienation and trauma. “What separates man from any other species,” Peter’s father told him one evening, before it all came undone, “is his ability to adapt.” But in A Fairy Tale, adaptation is precisely the problem.

Thoughts of the Enemy 0

Forget About James Franco 19

I’ve been around enough creative types to know that the only thing more toxic and debilitating than their schadenfreude is their seething resentment over the success of a rival. Especially when it’s seen as unearned.

Tuesday New Release Day: Kennedy; Galloway; Jones; Jonasson; Hilst; Bond; Spark 0

By the Horns 0

Did You Hear? 0

"I found this person to talk to" 0

What García Márquez Meant to the Macondians 4

Colombia of the ’80s and ’90s contained within itself Hell and Paradise all at once, each in its full force, neither diluting the other. This point is essential to understand why so many of us have taken to calling our beloved Nobel Laureate, the late Gabriel García Márquez, the most important Colombian who ever lived.

Early Chaucer Manuscript Put Online for All to See 0

"As a goal in life, you could do worse than 'try to be kinder.'" 0

Kafka on the Go: Rereading The Metamorphosis 0

I had been casting about for the perfect title when I saw Susan Bernofsky’s new translation of The Metamorphosis at an airport bookstore, the beautiful cover submitting the title letters to the same transformative process as the book’s protagonist undergoes. This, I decided, would be my companion text as I semi-reclined on a plane, lay in bed, sat in a café, strolled upright in a park, and bellied up to a bar.

The Lost Female Beat Poet 0

Darren's Ark: On Noah 0

On the second day, I attended a Seder, with 14 pounds of beef brisket. On the fifth day, I saw Noah, with Russell Crowe looking like 14 pounds of brisket in a distressed denim bag.

Undomesticated: On Joan Chase's During the Reign of the Queen of Persia 2

One reason that Joan Chase has slipped into obscurity, while her rough contemporaries Robinson, Mason, and Mantel have ascended, is the relative infrequency with which she publishes.

Colson at the Casino 0

450 Years of Juliets: On Women Making Shakespeare 2

The history of women interacting with Shakespeare's plays is also the history of women's rights, suffrage, and of the feminist movement. Shakespeare has been, and is, an uneasy ally.

Short Stories, Italian Style: On Francesca Marciano's The Other Language 2

A new dress, a change of scene, a spontaneous invitation: Marciano understands that these are the superficial actions people take in order to get at the deeper impulses they cannot name.

Sacrament of Fiction: On Becoming a Writer and Not a Priest 9

Good fiction can be a form of good works. As a Catholic, I recognize that life is a story of continuous revision, of failure and unexpected grace, and of dogged hope. I am comfortable with the white space of ambiguity and mystery. I have faith, not certainty.

Tuesday New Release Day: Prose; McCracken; Binchy; Rahman; Glancy; Bender; Marias 0

Essay Time 0

What's Lost 0

"It’s the people that keep you going back" 0

Order Some Donuts 0

"In Argentina, it’s better to keep your mouth shut." 0

The New YA Royalty 0

Dr. Doyle 0

Transylvanians Gone Wild: On Miklós Bánffy’s Transylvanian Trilogy 0

This might not be the thing one wants to hear before embarking on a 1,500 page quest, but the trilogy is marked by a narrative desultoriness that applies to both its human and political dramas. The novels are in a some ways about widespread distraction and inaction in the face of an impending catastrophe.

New McEwan on the Way 0

Sergei Dovlatov: Gravity, Levity, and Love 3

A few years ago, when I first starting reading and writing about Dovlatov, I focused on the wickedly humorous side of Dovlatov’s deadpan. But a few years later, and a few more books into his body of work, I find myself more interested in that earnestness and regret -- in Dovlatov the evolving man and artist, who crafted and, yes, honed a version of himself in his fiction that was just distorted enough to be true.

A Narrow Vantage: The Millions Interviews Mona Simpson 0

I think there’s a great temptation to sort of resist what it is you do naturally.

Yes, More Eggers on the Way 2

A History of Love (of Bookstores) 6

I have a long string of past loves, but they’re all bookstores.

Area Woman Makes the Best of It 0

"Overrun by the Kafkaesque" 0

A Story is Worth a Thousand Data Points: Michael Lewis's Flash Boys 3

Surely, high-frequency trading is more complicated than Lewis's portrait, but if he hadn’t found a way to boil down this highly technical issue to an emotionally satisfying tale of good vs. evil, most of us would never have known it existed.

Tuesday New Release Day: Wyld; Harvkey; Simpson; de Rosnay; Henderson; Solomon 0

Crimean Rites 0

It’s February 4, 1937. The poet Osip Mandelstam is in Voronezh, a provincial city deep in the Russian steppe. He has one year left to live.

The 2014 Pulitzer for Fiction Goes to Donna Tartt's Goldfinch 0

Donna Tartt's bestseller wins the fiction prize.

Literature on the Installment Plan: A Review Of Best European Fiction 2014 1

One possible implication of The Best European Fiction series is not only that Europe is going the way of America, but that the stories in it already represent the kind of writing that isn’t possible in America anymore.

Four David Mitchell books on the way 0

"Oh, you Irish—you're such MAR-velous storytellers" 0

Men Crying Over Poetry 0

Kurt Vonnegut's Doodles 0

You've Got Mail: On the New Age of Biography 4

After centuries of shuffling papers, biographers must now deal with the sudden digitization of the self, and the behavioral changes that have followed.

Sweep, Harvest, Gather: Mapping Metaphors to Fight Surveillance 3

To better understand how metaphors are being used in coverage of surveillance, PEN embarked on a study of articles by journalists and bloggers. There is rich thematic diversity in the types of metaphors that are used, but there is also a failure of imagination in using literature to describe surveillance.

Appetite for Risk: At the Intersection of Video Games and Literature 19

The literary world and the video games world could greatly benefit each other. Even a conversation, let alone the beginning of real collaborations and dialogues, would help each contend with their respective shortcomings.

Portraits of the Public Commons 0

The 2014 IMPAC Shortlist Serves Up 10 Eclectic Titles 0

The IMPAC tends to be interesting for the breadth of books it considers, and the 2014 shortlist is no exception.

Hug Your Darlings, Give the Moon the Finger: Writers On Delight 6

It's miraculous that these little darlings didn't get killed in the rewriting process.

The Art of Not 0

EPUB 1.0 0

Tuesday New Release Day: Davis; Tillman; Matthiessen; Sharma; Neuman; Lazar; Keegan; Doyle; Graedon; Begley 0

A Day in the Life of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop 50

On a dismal midwinter Thursday, we – eighteen current students of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, poets and fiction writers alike - set out to chronicle one ordinary 24-hour period in our lives. Hannah Horvath: take note.

The Clack of Great Art 0

Shoot First 0

Memory, Sorrow, Thorn, Etc. 0

Fellow Creatures: Leslie Jamison's The Empathy Exams 1

Leslie Jamison is a different kind of listener. She’s one willing to implicate herself and ask the tough questions about her (and our) capacity to understand each other.

"Sleep is strange" 0

Peter Matthiessen, 1927-2014 0

Special Feature: Kathryn Stripling Byer 0

We at the Hotel, Motel, Holiday Inn 0

Are We Entering a Golden Age of the Second Novel? 7

If a first novel fails to become a blockbuster, as almost all of them do, publishers are less inclined to get behind the follow-up by a writer who has gained a dubious track record but has lost that most precious of all literary selling points: novelty. Writers get only one shot at becoming The Next Big Thing.

Boy Meets World, Boy Meets Girl 0

James Baldwin on Film 0

Liner Notes: A Poetry Playlist 4

Poetry and music share a word of process -- composition -- and are linked by negotiations of melody, harmony, rhythm, proportion, and discord. Here is a poetry playlist: 10 poets offer their composition soundtracks.

Beckett's Bones 0

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Film Them 0

Michael Lewis's Flash Boys Arrives 1

April Books: A Reading List for Rebirth and Taxes 0

Here is a selection of recommended April reading, heavy on birth, death, and rebirth, and a little boredom.

On New Afghan Writing: An Interview with Adam Klein 0

I know a teacher’s role is not to be an analyst. Actually, I don’t know this. I don’t know why it would be wrong to bring up where the energy of the text is, where the elisions are. To some degree, you move the writer before they can move their text. That’s what I mean by permission. It isn’t the silent listener at the end of a couch but it feels that way – waiting for a writer to face their anxieties, their resistances.

Post-Lit 0

Afghanistan’s Secret Feminism, Through Verse 3

In a corner of the world far from the western imagination, poetry may stand for something vibrant, illicit, honest, and subversive.

Tuesday New Release Day: Coover; Donoghue; Huneven; Glass; Coupland; Osborne; Waldman; Jamison 0

New Maeve Binchy Coming Up 0

Digging Beneath the Cliché of Ruin Porn in Detroit 1

Only a true Pollyanna would try to minimize Detroit's staggering problems. But buying into the dreary old ruin-porn narrative is, in its way, as myopic as rosy optimism.

Modern Library Revue: #19 Invisible Man 3

In America it is the privilege of the white man to rollick, even if he is a poor Jew born into moderate squalor. The black man, in this novel at any rate, can only be fucked around; his hope, in this novel, is to discover his own way of doing things.

Great Deal on Siri Hustvedt’s Earlier Novel 0

Does this mean Will Ferrell will play Steve Eisman? 0

Douglas Adams Poem Unearthed 0

On Literary Cravings and Aftertastes 3

I had a voracious appetite to consume certain books I’d read long ago, revisiting passages that had always been especially moving. Or -- and this was fun and also eerie in its accuracy -- I found myself submitting to cravings for books I had never before read but the combined language, plot, and characters of which turned out to produce the perfect meal of prose for this pregnant bibliophile.

Filling the Silences: Race, Poetry, and the Digital-Media Megaphone 2

For most white Americans born outside the South, the Civil Rights Movement is the stuff of history books — fascinating, but abstract. For people like Taylor and myself, whose families were profoundly shaped by the civil rights struggle before we were born, that turbulent era is acutely personal, and at the same time distant and exotic.

No Right Path: Arriving at Writing from Outside the Humanities 7

Fear and wonder pulled me toward both astronomy and writing. If the world does not create awe in us, we will neuter the beautiful and complex. The profound becomes prosaic.

Tuesday New Release Day: Cole; Russell; Coover; Grossman; Long; Thompson; Pirzad 0

Silvertongued Wilson 0

Guerilla Grandma: On Siri Hustvedt's The Blazing World 4

Set in the New York art world, The Blazing World tells the story of Harriet Burden, an accomplished, middle-aged artist so frustrated by her lack of stature that she arranges for three younger male artists to show her work as their own.

Drawing Autism 0

Fictional Travel 0

The Dark Quotient: On Victoria Redel and Destructive Characters 0

The issue of how adults in Redel's fiction respond to children has reemerged following the recent publication of her short story collection Make Me Do Things. The compulsion suggested by the title reflects the tendency of her characters to lurch toward problematic, even dangerous choices.

La Chasse: On Hunting in the French Countryside 4

For a “blood sport,” la chasse is peaceful. “This is all so civilized,” a foreign policy advisor originally from Montana once remarked to me (even though gunfire blasted around us).

We Were Searching for a Reason: An Interview with Claire Cameron 1

The attack happened in 1991 in Algonquin Park. It was a couple who were experienced campers. What took me years to come to terms with was that they didn’t do anything wrong, and the bear was just being a bear. It was quite chilling.

What Katy Meant 0

The Man Who Knew Too Much 0

Tuesday New Release Day: Dovlatov; Rieger; Levine; Kaysen; Jia; Mirvis; Merwin; Wright 0

We Cast The Goldfinch Movie so Hollywood Doesn't Have To 60

We hereby submit our ideas for the Goldfinch cast. The process reveals the bizarre extent to which I think I understand the Hollywood casting processes, which starlets we think play trashy the best, and how it might be worth it to turn the cast on its head to let Michael B. Jordan play Theo.

"Then did he see, at long last, that The Google did load." 0

David Simon to Adapt MLK Biography for HBO Miniseries 0

"To do so, I felt, would be too dangerous" 0

The Millions Top Ten: February 2014 0

The top-ten stays locked up with Millions favorites.

2013 National Book Critics Circle Award Winners Announced 1

The winners of the National Book Critics Circle Award have been announced in New York City.

Deadlines, Word Counts, and Magnificent Lies: On Hesh Kestin 0

He had finished his first [novel], Small Change, when he was 23, and it was bought and slated for publication until he balked at changing the title to Season of Lust. The book was never published, nor were the next three. Eventually, as he puts it, “the noise of the hungry bellies of my kids used to keep me up at night.” So he got a real job, this time as a war correspondent—for, as it turned out, Newsday.

The Writing on the Wall (Redux): The 2014 Whitney Biennial, Starring David Foster Wallace 1

As the practice of writing on paper (everything from telegrams to letters to books to Post-It notes) is increasingly devoured by technology, words on paper are evolving from widespread tools of communication into the rarefied stuff of art. As things recede, they also expand. As a result, words are becoming as legitimate as the more traditional subject matter of painting, drawing, video and sculpture.

Thanks, Amigo 0

Tuesday New Release Day: Hustvedt; Poissant; Livers; Dermont; Kirn; Butler; Kerouac 0

"My First Buy": Book Editors Discuss Their Earliest Acquisitions 2

I wondered about the first professional decisions of newly minted editors — be they powerful tastemakers blissfully ignorant of P-and-L statements or recently promoted assistants. What drew them to the first proposal they tried to acquire? Did they look upon the decision as a momentous one? Do they even remember it now?

Why Does Roddy Doyle Wish to Disillusion Us?: The Millions Interview 1

I couldn’t care less really if I’ve disillusioned you. It is within your gift not to read the book. So really, it didn’t give me the minimum pause for thought.

Poetical Territory 0

Five Crime Novels Where Women are the True Detectives 20

Whether or not True Detective returns for another season and solves its woman problems, here's a list of crime novels where there’s a woman in charge. You might discover, like me, that you’re an accidental fan of the female detective.

“A great novel is always felt as a kind of gift” 0

A Closed World: On By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept 3

By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept is a staggering accomplishment, an exquisite and often ecstatic rendition of a tumultuous affair: “Jupiter has been with Leda, I thought, and now nothing can avert the Trojan wars. All legend will be broken, but who will escape alive?”

PEN/Faulkner Fiction Finalists Announced 0

Bird Lives: On Stanley Crouch's Kansas City Lightning 11

I submit that the kind of place Parker holds within jazz tradition is a little like what you would get if you mixed Beethoven with Jimi Hendrix. He was a game changer.

Descendant of Fear: On Scott Stossel's My Age of Anxiety 2

Life for Scott Stossel has been a gauntlet of morbid what-ifs: what if I pass out, lose control of my bowels, bolt from the podium in the midst of a speech? To keep such mayhem at bay, he’s medicated himself with bourbon, scotch, gin, and vodka. By prescription, he has taken Klonopin, Xanax, Ativan, Imipramine, Wellbutrin, Nardil, Thorazine, Zoloft, Effexor, Paxil, and Propranolol.

Moving in for the Kill 0

Hot Beats and High Genre: Submergence by J.M. Ledgard 2

High genre is fiction that allows you to investigate an individual text, because it is full of its own traits and merits, whether in its characterizations, its plot, or its prose. Regular genre, I suppose, is something you can only talk about as a family -- tracing the themes shared collectively among its members. High genre will always be vulnerable to the taint of its lower peers, because it shares the equipment, the same beats. This is why people are drawn to True Detective, and yet can accept assertions that it is just another dead naked lady show.

Untethered 0

On Reading Aloud 1

There are precious few opportunities in life to read and be read to, and there is something utopian to me about the creation of a site like Librivox, which operates solely on people's inexhaustible appetite for reading and listening.

Tuesday New Release Day: Oyeyemi; Mengestu; Grand; Hadley; Calhoun; Dillen 0

March Books: A Reading List for Winter's Thaw 2

We don't know quite what to do with March. We're excited and frightened by its power and variability. Here is a selection of recommended reading for a moody month.

The Long Goodbye 0

Free Rides: Writing and Reading on Trains 1

I hope Amtrak develops these introductory residencies into a full program, and that these writers are inspired to create new work, breathe life into old drafts, and maybe even enjoy some good reading.

The Poet and the Movie Star: An Evening with Frank Bidart and James Franco 6

Bidart wanted to have dinner with Franco so that he could explain his intentions in writing “Herbert White” (which is written in the first-person character of a necrophiliac murderer), plus, he said, “Of course I wanted to have dinner with James Franco! He was brilliant in Pineapple Express!”

I’m with the Losers: On Dubravka Ugrešić’s Europe in Sepia 6

The prognosis? It’s not good. Ugrešić laments what has become of the author who has to perform to earn a pittance and a hot meal. She laments a culture where action and image trump the self-doubt and time for contemplation.

Like, OMG! ‘Like’ Is, Like, Totally Cool, Linguist Says 22

There used to be a time when my story might have been: ‘I saw her enter the room and I was terrified that she would recognize me and so I crouched down.’ Which is actually sort of boring. But now you can tell that as: ‘I saw her, and I was like, oh my god! I was like, what if she sees me? I was like, oh my god, I’ve gotta hide. I was like, what am I supposed to say to her?’

Teaching the 'Law and Order' Short Story 12

How do you teach writing to students who watch movies and television instead of reading?

Miss You, SASE: On Postal Submissions 10

The great, unlikely gift of postal submissions was the building of patience and discipline. Now we can publish at any and every moment.

Tuesday New Release Day: Moore; Li; Wilson; Stace; Harbach 0

Haunting Us Still: W.G. Sebald's A Place in the Country 2

What the book may lack in personal revelations about the author, it makes up for with a better understanding of his process.

True Detective: “where time is a flat circle” 1

In Kanye Land 0

The Ultimate Cat in the Hat 0

A Feast for the Vicarious Foodie: On Michelle Wildgen's Bread and Butter 9

And the food! If nothing else (and there is plenty else), the novel revels in its cuisine. Sentences are peppered with exquisite dishes throughout and take detailed note of the textures and presentation and garnishes, allowing reader gorge. Dishes served include pig’s ear, hard salami, putty-colored lambs tongue, rabbit ragù with pappardelle, salted brittle, and sardines.

The L.A. Times Book Prize in Fiction Finalists 0

The Rise of Jay Gatsby and the Fall of His Inventor: On Sarah Churchwell's Careless People 6

Churchwell has done something almost unimaginable: she has discovered something new and she has written something fresh and revealing about The Great Gatsby.

America Always Gets the RoboCop It Deserves 6

Even as the RoboCop movies have declined in quality, they have served as ever-sharper reflections of what's going on in the culture at large.

A Physics of the Heart: On Grief, M-Theory, and Skippy Dies 8

Some branches of physics suggest that we live today in a multiverse. Within the multiverse, our universe is one of many. One variation of string theory holds that all possible outcomes of an event actually happen, across different universes. In this universe, my friends are dead, but in a parallel universe, they decided to sleep in, or to let the driver drive, or to return the suicide package when it came in the mail.

The Millions Top Ten: January 2014 0

Gridlock atop the list and an unexpected debut.

Bound and (Un)gagged: Why Orange Is the New Black Appeals to Us Outside 2

Like much current prison literature, Orange is the New Black seeks strenuously - and tellingly - to reaffirm the triumph of the human spirit. Rather than dwell on her misfortune or become too accustomed to prison life, Piper Kerman stages a protest, Oprah-style: no one can keep her down.

RIP Mavis Gallant 1

Cooking with Hemingway 12

I couldn’t question Hemingway’s mastery of prose. His pancake recipe inspired less confidence.

The Author Sends Her Regrets: J.K. Rowling and Other Writers with Second Thoughts 4

Is a writer allowed to have regrets? Certainly. Is she allowed to air them publicly? I mean, yeah, it’s a free internet, why not? Do I want to hear a single additional word about the world of Harry Potter from J. K. Rowling that is not in the form of another book? No, not particularly.

Tuesday New Release Day: Sebald; Ugresic; Storace; Nunn; Mailer 0

Just In Time For Valentine's Weekend 0

King's Revival 0

Homo Sovieticus: Russians on Russianness 0

But does a universal, mystical “Russian Soul” really exist? Did it ever? Is it the only explanation for what makes Russians Russian? For this crop of authors, the answer is nyet.

A Valentine’s Day Reading: Dan Rhodes’s Marry Me 0

A hint of menace creeps in; the title seems less and less like a question or plea and more like an imperative to submit to Eros and the attendant havoc.

Post-40 Bloomers: You've Come a Long Way, Lady James 2

James's detective novels represent the best qualities of the genre: they are absorbing, intellectually challenging, emotionally satisfying, and artfully constructed. The process of unraveling the mystery demands the reader’s attention and patience as the investigators work through the evidence, and yet the solutions that emerge seem simultaneously surprising and inevitable.

Wordsmith: The Beguiling Gifts of Ali Smith 4

This kind of gymnastic use of a single word is Smith's specialty, but instead of simply engaging in verbal pyrotechnics for their own sake, Smith wants to understand the dynamic between language and our inner lives.

Martin Gardner: The Most Interesting Man in the World 8

You may think that the most interesting man in the world has a scraggly gray beard, drinks Mexican beer, and hangs out with women half his age. But you’re dead wrong. I discovered the real deal. His name was Martin Gardner.

Stories in Verse 0

Bad Times 0

Tuesday New Release Day: Minot; Antopol; Cameron; de Botton; Troy; Wolf; Cotter; Conde 0

Forsooth 0

A Front-Row Seat 0

One Stay in the Life of an Olympics Journalist 0

I've found myself subconsciously pairing Sochi's absurdities with their analogues from the canon of Russian literature. And as I've come to learn, the Russian masters saw the writing on the wall well before the Olympic torch made its way to the Black Sea's coast.

Russian Love Stories; Russian Persecution 0

Hiddleston's High Rise 0

On the Origin of Novels? Encountering Literary Darwinism 26

Accusations of scientism and reductionism may or may not be warranted, but the fact remains: the most fundamental discovery in all of biological science remains more-or-less completely un-talked about in English seminars.

Gaiman TV 0

The Fictional Lives of High School Teachers 8

In America, teachers are either seen as angelic or caustic, saviors or sycophants. These stereotypes enable politicians to convince the public to support the latest education fad or slash needed budgets. The reality is we teach because we love to help kids, and we think literature is a way to examine and understand our complex lives.

Belle Epoque 3

Bad Habits 0

Their Etceteras 0

February Books: A Reading List for Love and Late-Winter Gloom 0

Here is a selection of recommended reading for February, full of love, birthdays, and late-winter gloom.

Chain of Fate: On Gaito Gazdanov’s The Spectre of Alexander Wolf 0

The question implicit in Gazdanov’s fascinating novel is whether such macabre determinism is self-perpetuated or inalterably woven into the fabric of our existence. Does believing we are doomed to die in a particular way bring about that very end — or do we believe it because we know in our prescient soul it’s the inexorable truth?

Following Franklin 0

Beethoven Got There First 6

The Grand Experimenter, it turns out, was Ludwig van Beethoven. This musical colossus, completely deaf, his personal affairs in chaos, perennially behind in his finances, unwell and unloved, reworked the string quartet in ways that continue to bewilder and astonish.

Fangirl 5

This is the story of one person in one fandom, but it’s likely got hints of your story, too, if you’ve ever been involved in this sort of thing. I’d hope that it resonates if you’ve ever really loved something that you haven’t created -- the I’d-kill-for-you kind of love of a work of art that inspires others to say things like, “Whoa, whoa, slow down, it’s just a book.”

Biographers Cannot Be Choosers: On The Biographical Drive 1

Novelists tend to be repulsed by and attracted to the literary biographer, who is both kindred spirit and antagonist, reviver and executioner, exalted Boswell, and the “lice of literature” (to quote Philip Roth from Exit Ghost).

That's What She Said 0

Waste Management: On Jonathan Miles’s Want Not 0

Want Not craves pride of place with such “sprawling” novels of social commentary as Infinite Jest and Freedom. Surprisingly, though, it turns out not to be a didactic story about reducing, reusing, and recycling. It may be just the opposite, a subversive argument that we are focusing our attention on the wrong sort of waste.

The Humanity 0

Lend Me Talent 0

Tuesday New Release Day: Ball; Offill; Cash; Finch; Quindlen 0

Time to Put the Knives Away: An Interview with Rebecca Mead 0

A lot of young writers don’t have a lot of empathy, and I don’t think I did. But that’s just part of growing up. If you still have the knives out when you’re my age, it’s time to put them away.

Ghostwriters 0

Judging Books by Their Covers 2014: U.S. Vs. U.K. 17

We are undoubtedly swayed by the little billboard that is the cover of every book we read.

Literary Maps of Another Kind 0

World History and Family Dinner: On Rachel Laudan's Cuisine and Empire 9

I'm a known pig, but over the course of my 20s I have been successfully indoctrinated against certain kinds of fast food and most grocery items that come in packages, which leads to confused, contradictory, and offensive positions on things. I won’t eat a Keebler Snack Cake, but I will eat an entire salami. I spurn the Olive Garden, but regularly eat a calorie-laden burrito filled with God knows what. I see fellow bus-riders with translucent McDonald’s bags to be fed to young children and feel sad, disregarding my past encounters with the Quarter Pounder and the Whopper.

Nobody’s Ever Ready: Snow in Poetry, Fiction, and Film 8

Snow has also become a refrain in my reading. Snow fractures storylines and complicates characters. Snow forces writers to capture atmosphere and mood, and to uniquely describe a common event.

Book Club Blunder 1

Based on a True Story: The Fiction-Free Finalists for the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar 0

This year's five nominees spring from material that varies widely in tone and quality. This source material is not all bad, by any stretch. But there isn't the handiwork of an untethered imagination in the pack.

Hipster Noir: Sara Gran's Claire DeWitt Novels 5

In Claire DeWitt, Sara Gran has given the hard-boiled detective a good, hard hipster twist, creating a character with a savagely vigilant mind and a black heart always on the verge of breaking.

One Fixed Point: “Sherlock,” Sherlock Holmes, and the British Imagination 4

We are not revisiting these characters and conceits because we are out of new ideas. A very old idea resonates; it comforts and entertains. In the case of Sherlock, even after all these retellings, it still manages to surprise.

Read Me! Please!: Book Titles Rewritten to Get More Clicks 78

As Upworthy-style headlines sweep the internet, aiming to snag as many clicks as possible by pandering to as many whims and obsessions as possible, the dignified mystery of the great book title stands in stark contrast.

Tuesday New Release Day: Powers; Oates; Hua; Snyder; Angelou 0

You Are Not the Reader 0

Internet's End 0

The Academic Life 0

Post-40 Bloomers: Ellen Meloy and Understanding Everything 2

What Meloy does share with Thoreau is a need for wilderness. As a naturalist and memoirist, she guides her readers toward a conscious relationship with the natural world, urging them to bear witness -- to choose something to care about.

Read Chekhov for a Better 2014 8

Reading literary fiction — including the works of Chekhov — increases scores on tests of empathy and emotional intelligence. But be advised that Chekhov doesn’t provide easy answers to becoming a kinder, more caring person.

2013 National Book Critics Circle Award Finalists Announced 0

As often tends to be the case, the NBCC is offering up what may be the most well-rounded fiction shortlist you'll find.

Tuesday New Release Day: Doctorow; Joyce; Cantor; Creeley; Urquhart; Russell; Vonnegut; Kushner 0

Six Impossible Things 0

The Next Day After Tomorrow 0

Eminent Hacks 2

We take for granted the difficulty of ascending to the empyrean heights of genius, but descending into the “majesty of mud” poses its own challenges for those unpure hacks not blessed “with all the might of gravitation.” Or to put it in distinctly non-Augustan terms, hackin’ ain’t easy.

A Father’s Story: An Elegy for Andre Dubus 6

Love will bring a man to his knees. What ultimately draws me to Dubus is a fear of myself. It is a fear that has no justification in my history: I have managed to avoid violence, certainly any coming from my own hands. But Dubus’s fiction taps into the preternatural worry that we can turn, in a moment, from a person we have prayed to become to something sharp and wrong. To read Dubus is to be possessed by art.

Don DeLillo's Secret (Seventh) Book 4

Not Enough Thrills 1

Rare Book Crime Capers: Forgery, Theft, Murder and the Holy Grail of American Printing 1

It is tempting to say that this was an episode when one of America’s greatest print forgers crossed paths with one of America’s greatest rare book thieves.

Going Back Up There 0

Judge It By This 0

Tuesday New Release Day: Saunders; Marcus; Beah; Lee; Vapnyar; Kidd; Abani; Shteyngart 0

Cheering Up the Country 0

Early Edition 0

"On the Internet, no one has stationery" 0

Because Useful 0

Most Anticipated: The Great 2014 Book Preview 45

At 9,100 words strong and encompassing 89 titles, this is the only 2014 book preview you will ever need.

None Found Here 0

RIP Elizabeth Jane Howard 0

Ten Who Left Us: Select Literary Obituaries from 2013 6

We lost great talents from every precinct of the literary world last year. Here is a highly selective compendium of the how they lived, when they died, and the books they left behind

January Books: A Reading List for the First Month of the New Year 0

It’s with a sense of incompletion that I offer my nine recommendations here for January, books and poems that begin, or hinge, or are contained in the year’s first month.

The Writing on the Museum Wall: When Artists Channel Writers 3

What these very different artists have in common is a hunger for that most writerly of staples, narrative.

The Grenadier 0

"A different order of debut" 0

Tuesday New Release Day: Eggers; Domini; Straight; Davis 0

Big Empty: On the Demise of Blockbuster 4

These were the days when the Internet was new, cell phones were for stockbrokers, and if you missed a movie in the theater, you had to wait six months or even a year or more to catch up. We don’t have to wait for anything now. I’m not sure that’s an entirely good thing.

Students' Picks: The Best YA Books of 2013 3

I watched my students run through a whole lot of books. Here are three published in 2013 that won the hearts of some young adults I know, recommended in their own words. Pick one up for a young adult in your life: satisfaction guaranteed.

Tala Tubaris 1

Tuesday New Release Day: Dos Passos; Wagner 0

A 2013 Cheat Sheet for All You New Kindle (And Other Ereader) Owners 4

For all those readers unwrapping shiny new devices, here are some links to get you going.

"He hasn't come down since" 0

The Girl Who Continued A Series Posthumously 0

An Experimental Review of an Experimental Translation 1

A Year in Reading: Bennett Sims 3

The book contains laugh-out-loud scenes with junkies, dealers, and a defense lawyer; charming childhood memories involving Candyland; and moving accounts of Clune’s daily practice of sobriety

A Year in Reading: Kevin Hartnett 4

A friend told me he still considers it the finest fictional depiction of marriage he’s ever read. I agree.

A Year in Reading: Kevin Barry 3

He is the bastard love-child of John McGahern and JG Ballard, and this is a brilliant book.

A Year in Reading: Kristopher Jansma 1

Most art from Warhol to present leaves me eye rolling and/or giggling. It finally helped me to understand the contents of the Whitney Museum as more than bad practical jokes.

A Year in Reading: Helen Oyeyemi 0

A book I think of as Pure Enjoyment 2013: each story a mini film-noir unfolding across pages.

A Year in Reading: Parul Sehgal 1

It’s gossip of the highest, most instructive caliber.

A Year in Reading: Michael Robbins 3

I’d place it above every American novel except Moby-Dick, Light in August, and Absalom, Absalom!

Ould Soul 0

A Year in Reading: Dara Horn 0

No one has heard of it. Just buy it anyway.

Tuesday New Release Day: Agee; Mann; Cowley; Virgil; Szybist 0

A Year in Reading: Kelly Link 2

My absolute favorite thing: a collection of really, really horrible and unsettling stories. Best read late at night, when no one else is home.

Not the First Ebenezer 0

A Year in Reading: Teddy Wayne 0

It’s hugely imaginative, brilliantly written, funny, and sad. What else would you want from a novel?

A Year in Reading: Marisa Silver 0

Somehow I missed all that when I was a sex obsessed fifteen year old trolling for the dirty parts.

A Year in Reading: Sam Lipsyte 2

A hypnotic piece of writing that reinvents all those so-called literary reinventions of the crime novel.

A Year in Reading: Kathryn Davis 2

Isak Dinesen sends you on your way to wherever you are going to end up, though who knows where that might be.  Better yet, once you finally arrive where you’ve been headed all along, you can’t exactly say how you got there.

A Year in Reading: Sonya Chung 1

It is Duras’s great accomplishment that, by the end of The Square, I am convinced that these two minds and souls are not only fully real, but that they are me.

A Year in Reading: Michael Bourne 3

The Orenda sheds new light on the dark crime at the heart of all North American history, but more important than that, it renders the ostensible victims of that crime, the Indians, as complex, fully realized human beings.

A Year in Reading: Adam Wilson 4

I’ve always liked books about drugs; they’re a good substitute for drugs.

A Year in Reading: Tess Malone 1

The Race Beat could have been a dry list of forgotten bylines and protests, but these personal details made it a sweeping narrative with heroes and villains, tragedy and victory, and even nuance.

Tale of a Jetblack Sunrise 0

A Year in Reading: Bill Morris 5

I don't buy books or movie tickets based on awards, and I'm proud to be able to say that I bought my copy of The Good Lord Bird before it was nominated for the National Book Award and I finished reading it before the awards ceremony.

The Eye of God 0

A Year in Reading: Emily St. John Mandel 2

What makes Scissors extraordinary isn't Stéphane Michaka's technical fireworks, but the humanity and compassion with which he presents his flawed and fascinating characters, in their struggles with alcoholism, with one another, with their work, with themselves.

A Year In Reading: Roxane Gay 0

Early in the book, Celeste Price marks her classroom with her vaginal juices, so she might better seduce one of the unsuspecting boys in her eighth grade class.

A Year in Reading: Mohsin Hamid 4

It also oozes braininess and sex. If you aren't intrigued, you're a hard, hard soul.

A Year in Reading: Caleb Crain 1

If you've ever wondered why the Church of England has failed to substantially revise its prayer book since 1662, or what the jokes in Victorian novels about church candlesticks are really about, this is the history for you.

A Year in Reading: Matt Bell 52

Smart and funny and brutally moving, it's the most aggressive short story collection I've read in a long time, one that forces emotional participation and moral complicity on its readers.

A Year in Reading: Elizabeth Minkel 0

It helps to root myself in the books I’ve been reading over the past 11 months: they have carried me across the ocean, as I have carried them.

A Year in Reading: Reif Larsen 1

Everything about Device 6 -- including your reading/playing experience -- is anticipated by the narrative framework of the book/game.

A Year in Reading: Janice Clark 0

Tartt’s prose has the unfakeable depth and luster of long gestation, reward for the decade-long waits between her books.

A Year in Reading: Paul Harding 11

This collection knocked me out because the stories are quiet and understated and lucid and gather up their power almost without the reader realizing it, then they break your heart, just like that.

A Year in Reading: Gabriel Roth 1

I should be clear: this book terrified me.

A Year in Reading: Rachel Kushner 1

More biographies should be poetic-philosophical treatises that foreclose morality in favor of essence.

A Year in Reading: Janet Potter 2

The Second Annual Janet Potter Awards for Literary Achievement...including "Cutest Couple," "Best Temper Tantrum," and "Biggest Failure."

A Year in Reading: Chang-rae Lee 0

To me, her gift is akin to that of those rare actors, like a Streep or a Brando, who can totally become a character but retain their own essence through and through.

New Murakami Coming in August 0

"The equal of Tolstoy, Dostoevsky and Turgenev" 0

Tuesday New Release Day: Frame, London, Stafford, Tennyson, Bennet 0

A Year in Reading: Elizabeth Strout 1

Reading her reminded me of that child-like excitement when you can’t look up from the page, when your eyes seem to be popping from your head, when you think: I didn’t know books could do this!

Thought Episodes: Norman Rush’s Novels of Ideas 3

Rush has successfully created that rare and most valuable art form, the novel of ideas.

A Year in Reading: Edwidge Danticat 1

We are not always comfortable discussing some of the situations so masterfully portrayed in this book.

A Year in Reading: Khaled Hosseini 2

Who – or what – the young daughter is can’t be discussed without revealing a major spoiler, suffice it to say it is a whopper.

A Year in Reading: Aleksandar Hemon 2

I’m sick of the relentless, numbing emotionalism of American culture.

A Year in Reading: Anne K. Yoder 0

This year, as I embarked on a novel, I became a kind of kleptomaniac, with all of the ghosts and voices and ideas from the books I’d just read haunting my attempts to put words on the page.

A Year In Reading: Nick Moran 4

Real America™ is where you get your first kiss, but also your first black eye. It’s where your uncle sets off fireworks each year on the Fourth of July until your family stops inviting him because of something the aunts won’t talk about.

A Year in Reading: Edan Lepucki 4

If I see you at a holiday party this December, I will corner you at the punch bowl and talk your ear off about Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity by Andrew Solomon. This book is a masterpiece! And, hey, here, let me ladle you some punch, that’s a nice sweater, etc.

A Year in Reading: Thomas Beckwith 0

When I read him, he calls me back, to a time not long ago that nevertheless seems distant, when the people I hung around didn't care a whit about prestige or the bull of the thinking class. Their fathers were off in Bosnia, and they didn't need our crap.

A Year In Reading: Hannah Gersen 0

This year the books I liked best fell into two categories: tortoises and hares.

A Year in Reading: Lydia Kiesling 6

When I wasn't reading a bunch of depressing shit, I read some strange and wonderful things.

A Year in Reading: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 4

Pym is funny and witty, brilliant at portraying the middle class English of the 1950s, and in particular she does the "psychology of femaleness" very well.

A Year in Reading: Mark O'Connell 1

“No, no, no,” I mutter to my former self. “Believe you me, pal, you don’t know shit about not reading. But you’re about to learn. Stick around another few months, then we’ll talk about not reading.”

A Year in Reading: Jason Diamond (Flavorwire) 0

Both James Wood and Wayne Koestenbaum continue to be in leagues of their own.

A Year in Reading: Sarah Waters 1

Many of my most memorable reads in 2013 have, I realize now, been re-reads.

A Year in Reading: David Gilbert 2

I am not the first to say this, but let me say this nonetheless: Thank God for the NYRB series of reissued books.

A Year in Reading: Garth Risk Hallberg 15

Probably the single most perfect book I encountered in 2013 -- it didn't just reward my attention; it commanded it.

A Year in Reading: Gary Shteyngart 7

I decided to Yiddishize some of the writing to make it more haimish. Mr. Darcyvich never had it so good.

A Year in Reading: Norman Rush 0

The most necessary book of the year 2013. It is full of intellectual fire.

A Year in Reading: Dani Shapiro 2

It is entirely without plot, but bear with me when I tell you that this doesn’t prevent it from being its own kind of page-turner.

That Rare Outlaw 0

A Year in Reading: Hamilton Leithauser (The Walkmen) 1

I'd never read anything by her before and was just floored.

A Year in Reading: Alice McDermott 2

It is a kind of enchantment, to be lured so completely into the life of this character.

Tuesday New Release Day: Harrison; Heidegger; Molina; Hornby; Newlyn 0

The Ultimate List: 25 Gifts That Writers Will Actually Use 15

I realized that I had a drawer full of blank journals that I had never used, all given to me by friends and family wanting to support my writing habit. I knew I couldn’t be the only writer with this particular surplus, so I decided to draw up a list of items that writers might actually use.

A Year in Reading: Choire Sicha 2

Every emo youngster should read this, it is where their contemporary literature came from!

A Year in Reading: Claire Messud 4

It's a book I consider almost my blood relation.

One Kind of Coating 0

A Year in Reading: Stephen Dodson (Languagehat) 3

By the time I got to the end of the first paragraph, I was entirely willing to put myself into her hands and go where she wanted to take me.

A Year in Reading: 2013 3

Another year of living, another year of reading. And, if you're like us, when you look back, you'll mark out the year in books.

Big Picture 0

Tidy Little Man 0

"What does any human being want?" 0

Before They Were Notable: 2013 0

This year’s New York Times Notable Books of the Year list is out.

Difficult History: On John Lewis's March 0

The civil rights movement is a brutal place, where young men torture themselves for the great cause, and where the moments of euphoria are all too rare.

Thanksgiving: A Day of Infamy for Turkeys 0

Out came my 12-gauge, and I loosed off a shot that at some 100 feet did no discernible damage, and after a brief bout of what-the-hell-was-that the turkeys continued to forage. A fusillade of two more shots finally brought down a 14-pounder. I hung him for four days, plucked him and by Thanksgiving’s end he was history.

Red 14's Latest Cinematic Book Trailers 0

Maps to Get Lost In: Visual Editions' Where You Are 1

Where You Are, an anthology of sixteen maps by an eclectic mix of writers, artists, and thinkers, delights in leading the reader astray by blowing up the conventional conception of the map.

I Found a Way to Enter: Diving Into Writing 3

I want to look for my entry onto the page, into a line, an image, a something. The seven-plus-minute song “Reflektor” has become a ritual these days. Blast it louder and maybe the portal will appear. Will I dive in?

Not to be Rude 0

Tuesday New Release Day: Levertov; Tolstoy; Freud 0

Breaking Point 0

You Can't Lie in Fiction: An Interview with Kevin Barry 9

I wanted the reader to feel like they were in some awful, horrendous dive bar in a tremendously deranged Irish city in the middle of the 21st century and there’s some crazy old fucking whisky-drunk nut alongside them whispering this demented tall tale into their ears.

Painting a Body of Loss and Love in the Proximity of an Aesthetic 2

I am not sure if my mother is crying from the beating, from loving him, or because of the broken oven that had survived a civil war but is now not likely to be replaced, and which, although we can’t know that yet, would never bake right again.

Finding Waldo 0

Van Gogh Was Cheap 0

Hot Air 0

A Library of the Mind 7

Even if I managed to keep my mental concentration long enough to maintain one section of this library-of-the-mind, the idea of trying to juggle multiple sections ended up being too much, and I was forced to give up the whole project, having only completed one of Borges’s hexagons.

Hunger Games Madlibs 0

The Writing of 'Hand D': On Shakespeare's Collaborative Career 6

Why would Shakespeare involve himself in trying to patch up a play already rejected by Tilney for containing dangerous material, and not only be involved, but agree to write one of the stickiest scenes in the play? It certainly challenges popular conceptions of Shakespeare.

Charles Dickens's Mistress 0

At Thep Moob Men’s Prison 0

Only Connect: A Young Playwright Finds His Audience 1

The 200-odd Bronx high school students did not shut up for one single second once they entered the theater. Guys wolf-whistled at girls across the theater, and the girls hollered back, daring the boys to come down after them. Spitbombs flew. Paper airplanes sailed.

God, CEO of Heaven 0

Writing to Explain Yourself to Yourself 0

Act Two: A Young Playwright Grows Up 1

Moss Hart had talent, an inhuman tolerance for work, and a pair of brass balls, but what set him apart from the thousands of other guys hanging around theater lobbies in the mid-1920s trying to catch a break was that the man was fucking relentless.

The Ragged Spawn of E.L. Doctorow's Ragtime 6

Doctorow's selective use of historical figures and events lends Ragtime its air of verisimilitude without robbing him of the freedom to imagine and distort and mythologize. It is, for a writer of fiction, the best of all possible worlds.

Across This Land 0

Mailerrific 0

Things Just Happen, Don't Ask Why: César Aira's The Hare and Shantytown 1

This is fiction as a never-ending car chase, and you might just get away if you can only stop your vehicle from turning into a lampshade.

Time for Teen Fantasy Heroines to Grow Up 23

Authors as influential as Stephenie Meyer and Suzanne Collins have the opportunity to inspire their readers toward greatness, but they squander it miserably.

Tuesday New Release Day: DFW, Auster, LaCava, Lewis 0

Where is all the Fiction in Space? 5

There’s a smattering of poetry wending its way through space. But where’s the fiction drifting through the dark sea of ionized gas? Wouldn’t we send at least one Chekhov story?

Not for Everyone 0

Weary Old Men 0

Master of Happy Scenes 0

Lovely Soprano 0

RIP Doris Lessing 0

Stiff Manners 0

Reviewing Reviews 0

Tigers on Your Tablet 0

An Exalted State: On Jason Schwartz's John the Posthumous 6

To read Jason Schwartz is to enter a fugue state, in both senses of the word. His writing is, like a musical fugue, a mesmerizing series of themes stated successively in different voices; it is also, in the psychiatric sense, a state marked by wandering and an inability to remember one's past accurately. It is a state unlike any other.

Anger is a Good Sauce 0

Picture of Alienation 0

Jane Gardam's Characters: Organically Grown 1

Gardam didn’t sit down to write what would become her first collection of short stories until she was 41. But even in her first works, written for children, a reader can sense a lifetime of thoughtful observation — and the even hand of a veteran gardener, which, it turns out, she is.

Crash Course 0

Keep It in Your Pants and out of the Plot 0

A Startup Soap Opera: On Nick Bilton's Hatching Twitter 1

While the characters featured in Hatching Twitter feel more like archetypes than actual humans, it’s hard not to eat this stuff up. Aspects of Dorsey’s behavior are hilariously juvenile. After being ousted from the company, he continued to take any and all interviews about Twitter, feigning authority when answering questions he did not know the answer to.

How to Be Alone: The Millions Interviews Tanya Davis 0

No matter how people approach loneliness or solitude or community, we all do. We’re not that different from each other. The way we experience it is different, but we all experience love, pain, loneliness.

The Best Books of the Year (2013) 3

It's a Mixed Life: An Interview with Nicholson Baker 1

Obama’s administration has been a devastating disappointment, in so many different ways. Fanatical secrecy, the persecution of whistleblowers, foreign interventions and arms shipments that make things worse, the quintupling of drone killings -- it just has to be said.

God is with the Lazy 1

Cossery would rise late each day, leaving the hotel only in the afternoons, perhaps to take in the sun and watch the girls of the Luxembourg gardens. He would sit for hours at the Flore doing nothing. He wrote only when he had absolutely nothing better to do, producing a new novel roughly every decade. To waiters who asked him if he was not bored, he replied: “I am never bored when I’m with Albert Cossery.”

New Trailer for T.C. Boyle 0

Julian Assange Opens for M.I.A. 0

Youth and the Eisenberg Uncertainty Principle: Laura van den Berg's The Isle of Youth 3

With a billion swirling atoms of possibility and just that one fixed coordinate, a story takes shape as van den Berg brings the unexpected into brilliant focus.

Hidebound 0

Tuesday New Release Day: van den Berg, Tan, Faulks, Setterfield, Delaney 0

We the Narrators 15

Why would anyone decide to write a novel in first-person plural, a point of view that, like second-person, is often accused of being nothing but an authorial gimmick? Here are a few novels that prove first-person plural is more of a neat trick than a cheap one.

Not Fat Tony! 0

Lou Reed, Sonic Contrarian 22

Most of the personal tributes I’ve seen don’t just talk about how great a musician Lou Reed was but how his fine, fine music literally changed their lives.

"Both a gem and a bomb" 0

Not as Scary as Meeting Norman Mailer 0

Book Business Savvy 0

No Country for Greedy Men: Cormac McCarthy, Screenwriter 5

One reviewer of The Counselor remarked that the man who wrote the script, Cormac McCarthy, appears never to have read a screenwriting manual. I can think of no higher compliment for a screenwriter.

Van Doren's Shakespeare Giveaway 0

All Happy Meals Are the Same; Every Unhappy Meal Is Unhappy in Its Own Way 1

McDonald’s introduced me — and I would venture thousands of other kids — not only to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer but also to the notion of a classic. In 1977 and again in 1979, the fast food chain paired up with the publisher I. Waldman & Son to distribute Illustrated Classics Editions in their restaurants.

Catherine Havisham. Earlier. 0

Too Many Heavens: On Travelogues to the Great Beyond 17

One of the major problems with the heaven-and-back literature is that none of the people who have been there agree about what it’s like. These authors aren’t publicly disputing each other’s testimonials – which is too bad, because that would make for great daytime talk show fodder – but if you read more than one of the books, the discrepancies are hard to miss.

Beyond Alice Munro: A Beginner's Guide to Canadian Lit 24

For Americans who have plowed through Munro’s Selected Stories and are looking for a broader taste of Canadian literature — or CanLit, as it is called here — I offer a partial and admittedly idiosyncratic “Beginner’s Guide to Canadian Literature.”

Family Matters 0

The Lowest Form of Humor: How the National Lampoon Shaped the Way We Laugh Now 4

The funny guys and girls who are confident (it was dawning on me, there at that orientation) are the ones who hold court at parties. The funny guys who are diffident become comedy writers. Or, as I once read in an interview with an Onion writer speaking about the makeup of its staff—the closest thing we have to the National Lampoon in its heyday—they’re the guys who are outside the party, making fun of the guy inside telling jokes.

Winning Over James Wood 37

I started to have a terrible, itchy, and at first seemingly irrelevant thought: James Wood would dislike my book. Then my thought clarified into something worse: James Wood would dislike this book and he would be correct.

Tuesday New Release Day: Ephron, Alarcón, Dorst/Abrams, Dickinson 0

Stellar Memoir 0

Life and Counterlife: Roth Unbound by Claudia Roth Pierpont 2

One thing that makes Roth Unbound interesting is that Pierpont was able to interview Roth in the first years of his retirement. You can feel Roth’s reflective, relaxed state of mind as he looks back on his career, cataloging his regrets and triumphs.

"You call that nice? // I call it haiku." 0

5 Series You Probably Missed as a Kid (But Should Read as an Adult) 48

Each offers a thoroughly imagined world that’s immersive enough to make you feel like a kid again, with writing sharp and smart enough to satisfy a book-loving adult. 

“You said I'd be the next Keith Richards.” 0

The Uses of Disenchantment: A New Generation of Writers on Loving and Leaving New York 1

Living in New York turns out to be a process of earning nostalgia -- hoarding enough memories to give you the kind of claim on a place that makes it possible to leave it. When you reach your limit and set out elsewhere, memories are your consolation prize.

In the Ring with Norman Mailer 0

Shaking Down Cage the Elephant 0

Bookermania at Morgan Library: All the Contentious Glory of the Man Booker Prize 0

According to curator Sheelagh Bevan, the display is designed to celebrate the physical book and the importance of cover design, while at the same time showing off what everyone comes to the Booker to find: intellectual battles, backstabbing, and bitchery.

Tuesday New Release Day: Tartt, Lamb, Collins, Pierpont, Buck 0

The Smile in the Bone: Lore Segal's Half The Kingdom 0

Anyone who has ever passed time in a hospital will find something recognizable and true in Lore Segal’s new novel, Half The Kingdom.

The Busiest Bar in Publishing 2

Hemingway put the Parisian bar, Harry’s, on the map. Dylan Thomas did the same for Manhattan’s White Horse tavern. This fall, Victor Giron’s Chicago watering hole, Beauty Bar, might prove just as instrumental to independent literature.

Pop Lit: Literary Magazines in Film and Television 15

What is the wider cultural influence of literary magazines? I am not sure there needs to be one.

One Translation To Rule Them All 0

"I see how we are all the same" 0

A Prism of Hidden Meanings: On László Krasznahorkai’s Seiobo There Below  1

Moving beyond localized meaning, the stories challenge us to examine the psychology of our moment, a time in which our inability to understand the sacred paralyzes us in its presence.

Portrait of a Runner: On Mark Slouka’s Brewster 0

It gives me great pleasure to picture the Apostle of Democracy doing quarter-mile repeats on the lawn of Monticello, perhaps in preparation for a match race with his Federalist challenger John Adams at the Founding Fathers Relays. But I digress.

Clean New Music: On Seamus Heaney 2

I needed Heaney’s voice to know what a voice could sound like, and through Heaney I discovered my own voice. I learned to listen to the timbre of its echoes.

Silently, Side by Side: Reading with My Son 11

Maybe those days of curling up in bed with a story were long gone, but what if we read the same book together silently in the living room? If I bought two copies of a novel, we could take on chapter-length chunks each evening and then discuss what we’d just read. Perhaps in this way I could gently lead my son to an appreciation of the deeper internal landscapes that literature offers.

A Bit Woody 0

2013 National Book Award Shortlists Released 4

The contenders for the 2013 National Book Award were pared down to a five nominees in each category today. Here’s a list of the finalists in all four categories with bonus links and excerpts where available.

Brad Bumsted: An Old-School Reporter Still Getting the Story, and Still Getting It Right 3

Brad Bumsted is an important reminder that good journalism will always be built on what it was originally built on – not technological innovations, but on the ability of dogged, savvy, intelligent reporters to gather information and quickly turn it into factual, even-handed and engaging prose. Few people have done it longer than Brad Bumsted. Few do it better.

Out of the Frying Pan 0

"A hustler wrote this?" 0

RIP Oscar Hijuelos 0

Tuesday New Release Day: McCarthy, Phillips, Turow, Geni, Catton 0

When the Stars Align: On Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries 7

Under the sign of Libra, the reading public will be gifted that rarest literary treasure, a book of such dazzling breadth and scope that it defies any label short of masterpiece.

The NYRB Classics Spring 2014 Preview 0

Southern Myths and Yankee Murder in the Strangely Wonderful World of Pickett's Charge 0

McNair is inventive, original, and has a particular talent for finding language that is surprising without being showy. But his real skill is his deep familiarity with the South as a place, it’s creatures, customs, and yearnings.

“A move that was, in a way, Chappelle’s birthright” 0

Twain and Keller 0

Producing The Counselor 1

The Land of the Setting Sun 0

Clever Girl(s) 0

The Happiest Meal 0

Love and Loss and Grief and More Love: On Self-Help Literature 5

That hospital visit, which was longer than expected, I moved from Housekeeping to Beloved to A Personal Matter. And though these three books are so different that their authors might be surprised to see them all appear in the same sentence, they are linked in my mind, for the broad understandings they offered me of suffering and joy, and the complications of love.

Bridget Jones and the Misprint 0

Paper Tiger: Irish Financial Fiction after the Bust 2

Irish writers have begun to take stock of the post-Tiger years in ways that attest to the global nature of the bust. Two in particular, Aifric Campbell and Alan Glynn, offer compelling if wildly divergent responses to the challenge of representing in fictional terms what Campbell calls “the closed world” of the financial industry.

Canadian Short Story Master Alice Munro Wins the Nobel Prize for Literature 5

Alice Munro, called by the Nobel committee "Master of the contemporary short story," has won the 2013 Nobel Prize for literature. Munro, 82, is the first Canadian to take the prize.

Joyless 0

New Sontag E-books 0

Just Like in the Movies 0

A Little Bit Beta: On Dave Eggers's The Circle 15

The Circle occupies an awkward place of satire and self-importance.

A Poet Goes Commercial: Nicholson Baker's Traveling Sprinkler 2

Working poet Paul Chowder from The Anthologist returns in Nicholson Baker’s new novel, Traveling Sprinkler, which isn’t so much a sequel as a remake. It is a novel-rhyme; the two comprise a couplet.

Two Years After Timeline: Facebook and The Neverending Story 4

It's been just over two years since Facebook first replaced walls with timelines, and the anniversary begs reflection. Might it truly be Facebook, and not the e-book, that threatens the paperback?

Boom Boom Boom 0

Tuesday New Release Day: Eggers, Dubus, Freeman, Boyd, Zoller-Seitz 0

The Danger in Cohesion: Tom Perrotta’s Nine Inches 1

Taken as a collection, Nine Inches reveals a fatal flaw that undermines the skilled artistry: Perrotta’s heavy hand.

Meditations on Meditations in Green 1

Kerouac Returns to the Big Screen 0

The Pleasures And Perils Of Writing About Writing: An Interview With Dani Shapiro 2

Initially I had a blog because everyone told me to have a blog. And when I started, I thought what can I regularly blog about that feels like a deep enough well? And the answer was: the process of writing. The creative process itself. What it takes to do the work, what are the pitfalls and the joys, the struggles and the privileges. We do what we do alone in a room. Yet we’re struggling with the blank pages.

"These gentlemen simply had too many dreams in common." 0

Evelyn Waugh's Brother Invented the Cocktail Party 0

"You're a fiction writing professor." 0

You Can't Go Home Again (If You Understand What This Means) 0

Submissions Open for Dzanc's Non-Fiction Award 0

Grave Mistake 0

The Ziggy Stardust Bookclub 0

Hunting for Red October: Remembering Tom Clancy 4

The genius of Clancy's story, its basic believability, like Tolkien's, comes from a firm commitment to letting the plot unfold logically once the initial hook is in place. It is perhaps difficult to believe there is a ring of power that confirms upon its bearer numinous strength, or that a Russian missile submarine commander, in charge of the newest and most secret sub, would defect along with all his officers. But once you buy the beginning, the rest of the books proceed with rigor.

The Life that Develops In-Between: On Elizabeth Graver's The End of the Point 7

Unless you’re kicking it with the Compsons or Buendias, say, it usually takes a little bit of readerly patience to get through a multigenerational family story. One has to be on one’s game, in terms of care and attention. Nobody wants to spend several hundred pages with a bunch of allegorical figures sitting around the dinner table and passing each other the salt.

Popping the Question: A Survey of Literature's Non-Traditional Marriage Proposals 3

Some proposals are perhaps better forgotten. The following unromantic, bizarre, poorly delivered or conceived proposals elicit reactions less like Molly Bloom’s orgasmically affirmative “Yes I will yes I will yes!”.

Card Collection 0

RIP Tom Clancy 0

It Has Always Been Thus 8

Critics who have taken up the dead author standard would have us regard creative work as an elaborate Freudian slip: don’t read for what a writer is trying to say, read for what they’ve said in spite of themselves. That’s wrong. Literature (and all the arts, really) is the product of concentrated, intelligent minds to which we are granted intimate, but temporary and incomplete, access.

Keep Them Guessing: An Interview with Maile Meloy 1

Meloy made an unexpected foray into middle grade fiction with a 2011 book about 14-year-olds and a magic book that falls into the hands of Russian spies. Despite being a reader in lockstep with this writer, I have absolutely no idea where she's going. It seemed time to query the writer herself.

A Slingshot Full of Stories: Malcolm Gladwell's David and Goliath 13

In David and Goliath, Gladwell appears to have started with an answer and then gone looking for people to prove him right.

How The Room Was Made 0

Screwing Up and Falling in Love: Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor & Park and Fangirl 1

Both books are about how falling in love for the first time, particularly if you’ve never seen a love story you can relate to, can be as terrifying and confusing as it is joyful.

Sedaris's Story Comes to the Big Screen 0

You Must Read Kevin Barry 2

Kevin Barry's new collection of stories, Dark Lies the Island, shares the virtues that made his debut novel, City of Bohane, such an astonishment. There is rich music, high humor and deep blackness on every page.

The Curious History of a Curious Account 0

East of Hollywood 0

Breaking Good: Broadway's Golden Age Reborn on Cable 6

It seems clear that if Tennessee Williams and Lorraine Hansberry were writing today they would be showrunners for a cable series, because that’s where the audience is.

A Muppety Man 0

The End of the Beat Generation 0

Playing Survivor on Novel Island 1

“The babies know just what they need to do,” observed one seasoned mother, watching my son on the playground. He was standing at an iron gate performing what honestly looked like a series of leg-strengthening exercises. He was very focused, very serious. He didn’t need a sign reminding him not to start any new projects.

Queens As a Metaphor for the World: On Jonathan Lethem’s Dissident Gardens 1

Using the New York City borough of Queens as a linchpin, Jonathan Lethem’s latest novel questions the American twentieth century’s “great comedy: that Communism had never existed, not once. So what was there to oppose?”

Beauty is Truth: The Case Against Banning The Bluest Eye 8

To call The Bluest Eye pornographic is simply wrong. Accusing Morrison’s work of containing child pornography both ignores the very important distinction between pornography and rape and displays the weakness of the arguments against the book.

Tuesday New Release Day: Barnes, Lahiri, Oz, Erdrich 0

“Was it a vision, or a waking dream?” 1

Speaking with Spiegelman 0

Franzen and the Twitter Bog 21

Twitter somehow encompasses both sides of the Emily Dickinson dichotomy. On Twitter, the Nobodies have seized hold of the mic and managed to occupy the bog.

This is the way the film ends 1

Borges and Bergoglio 0

Bubblegum Rewards: Ten Lessons Shared by Reality TV and Classic Literature 3

Just when I’d pronounced myself lost to empty, mindless indulgence, I invented a game: matching reality programs with classic literature. After playing a few times on the couch (flat screen to my left, library shelf to my right), I’m now unable to watch reality shows without asking, “So, what book is this like?” Inevitably, I discover one lesson on how to live and another on how to write.

DJ Díaz 0

Zen and the Art of Pie Making 0

A great pie is a product of both skill and wisdom; as, I believe, is a great life.

2013 National Book Award Longlists Released 4

Last year, the fiction finalists included far more male authors than female, however the count is even in 2013.

Maybe We Need New Words: The Millions Interviews Nicholas Mennuti 1

The first thing to remember is that the government has never, ever respected your privacy. At least not since post-WWI and the Communist threat in America. They’ve been opening your mail for years. They’ve been wire-tapping without warrants for years. The only difference is that it’s easier now.

More Tire Tracks in the Rose Beds: On David Shields and Shane Salerno’s Salinger 5

If this new project, hyped as one of the great literary reveals of our time, cannot help us find Salinger, what can?

Opiates 0

Speculative Evidence: Ben Urwand's The Collaboration 1

It is the unholy alliance of Hitler and Mickey that tees up Urwand’s central claim: from 1933 to 1939, the Jewish moguls who ran Hollywood’s studio system “collaborated” with the Nazi regime, censoring and even quashing films that represented the German state in a negative light.

RIP Daisy 0

Beat That 0

Taut, Not Trite: On the Novella 6

Most reviews of novellas begin with similar elements: the writer’s arbitrary word count parameter, why “novella” sounds more diminutive than “short novel,” and a lament that publishers are unwilling to support the form. This essay is not such an apology.

Tuesday New Release Day: Pynchon, Baker, McNair, Boccaccio 0

Jeff Sharlet Revisits The Fellowship 0

"The void was me." 0

Rare Talent, Imperfect Art 10

The writer -- forced into a seemingly endless series of student conferences and reading a seemingly endless pile of student poems and stories and essays -- sacrificing herself. Maybe there’s no getting around the exhaustion part of it all. At least, maybe, we can be tired but respected.

Cooking with 2 Chainz 0

Jean-Patrick Manchette Movie Adaptation on the Way 0

Telegraph Alternates 0

Something Stark and Essential: On Alexander Maksik's A Marker to Measure Drift 0

The writing is clear and economical, and to Maksik’s credit it never competes with Jacqueline’s ongoing plight. Add a plot so tightly focused on her immediate hardships and the unbreakable link to her mother, whose voice comes to her in memory with advice both wanted and unwanted, and Maksik seems to have set up an absolute gauntlet for himself.

Recommended Reading: Jesmyn Ward 1

5 Women Under 35 0

The Pleasure of Discursive Commentary: On the Paratext Novel and the Drunken Pornographer 5

A friend once even showed me a porno with a commentary track. While the director offers her insights into the filming process, along with increasingly belligerent rants about her colleagues, she gets completely shit-faced. After about 30 minutes, she passes out, and for the rest of the movie, you can hear her snoring breezily in the background.

Letter of the Law: On J.D. Salinger, Unpublished Works, and US Copyright 3

Curiously, though, under all three sets of rules -- copyright, fair use, and most archive policies -- I am free to use my iPad to take good resolution images of unpublished manuscripts so long as I don't share them publicly. Who can say if this extends to the privacy of my own home where I might convert an unused closet into a Salinger shrine? Such is the fickleness of U.S. copyright law.

Childlike Simplicity: On J.M. Coetzee's The Childhood of Jesus 4

David is the vehicle for Coetzee’s effort to explore belief’s ability to conquer doubt — more particularly, the doubt of Simón — and of the way fantasies can coax even doubt itself into becoming a form of trust, of faith, of belief.

The St. Louis Invasion: Jonathan Franzen’s The Twenty-Seventh City at Twenty-Five 4

Jonathan Franzen's deeply ambivalent portrait of St. Louis in The Twenty-Seventh City is in some ways the dark twisted fantasy of a native son. After almost a decade here, I understand how this city could have driven him nuts and broken his heart.

The S Monster 2

The Train in the Night: A Story of Music and Loss by Nick Coleman 0

Nick Coleman, a long-time music journalist in the UK, was made aware of his body’s terrible capriciousness when one of his ears stopped working. It left a dull blankness for a while, and then a building cacophony of tinnitus in both ears so severe that balance and concentration became almost impossible. Burdened with what could have been a ruinous impediment, he reaffirms his love of music.

“I don’t want kids, but there’s nothing else to do.” 0

Rudyard the Rebel 0

How to Be 0

Telegram for You, Sir 0

What's Frightening About Gone Girl 1

Marisha Pessl's Stirring Second Act 19

Marisha Pessl's writing has done a lot of growing up in the seven years since Special Topics in Calamity Physics was published. Her new novel is bigger, more ambitious, and far more satisfying than her splashy debut.

Not His Best Work 0

The Do-or-Die Novelist: An Interview with Elliott Holt 3

I'd just gone through this break-up and was feeling crushed and heartbroken. I had quit my salaried staff job in advertising and I was running out of money/time. So I said, that's it. I have to do this. I have nothing else. I have to give it my all and actually finish this novel.

Speed is Addictive 0

The Signifying Life: In Praise of the Outward-Looking Memoir 4

Memoir at its very best is the start of a conversation. It makes its interest in readers explicit, offering not just a series of life events, but a deliberate suggestion of what it is to be a human being – to experience confusion, despair, hope, joy, and all that happens in between.

Big Budget Brontë Biopic in the Works 0

Chasing the Light: On Not Quitting the Writing Life 5

What is it that can still seize me, after years of failure, and make me seek to write, to make art? I have no idea. All I know is that I do not have it in me to give up.

Using Every Part of the Whale: On Peter Orner’s Last Car Over the Sagamore Bridge 0

What follows are love affairs in hotel rooms, quiet suicides in basements, and monologues about being known for wearing goofy hats. What follows are stories that don’t begin and end in the same place, at least not emotionally. There are whole stories in what isn’t said.

An Unlikely Speaker: On Stuttering and the Memoir 3

Writing a vivid book about stuttering, a book that people read in the privacy of their own lives, is only one level of vulnerability. Standing up to speak about that book, while experiencing the sensation of stuttering and bearing witness to all the immediate reactions that evokes, is quite another.

On The Pleasures and Solitudes of Quiet Books 24

"Books are solitudes in which we meet," Rebecca Solnit wrote. But before the meeting comes the solitude, the book as a private space that a reader steps into, and there are moments when escaping into a book is a bid for some measure of seclusion. If the solitude you crave at the moment is a quiet one, here’s a short reading list of quiet books that I've recently read and admired.

"He was always doing so" 0

Tuesday New Release Day: Moore, Danticat, Wright, Loyd 0

Marion Cotillard as Lady Macbeth 2

Who She's Writing For 0

A Breaking Bad (and Beyond) Reading List 7

The books on this list range from the personal to the mythological to the journalistic, and some intertwine all three. They all depict a world of stark contrasts. There is danger here.

The Literature of Business (Not the Opposite) 1

Double Shot of #LitBeat 0

College Football Season Is Upon Us, So Read Up 1

Times: New Film and Book Claim Five New J.D. Salinger Books to Be Published Starting in 2015 0

The Millennials Are Alright 0

Muggles Appraising Wizards 0

"An uncommonly precocious writer." 0

Pulitzer Playlist 0

Goodbye Old Friends: On Selling My Books 17

But I must come clean. As fun as it is to get a sale, my currently listed volumes are moving at a pace which would take some 70 years to empty my e-store. Of course, that's assuming people will continue to prize certain books: great out-of-print novels, first editions, volumes signed by the author. As e-books continue to take market share, paper books may be destined to become decorative objects, like cupboards built to hold commodes or vinyl album covers.

"The thousand cheerful chimneys" 0

I Go Salsa Dancing 0

Mr. Leonard Was Different 1

The first times I saw Elmore Leonard were in the 1950s and '60s, when we were living near each other in a Detroit suburb and I was playing football with his kid.

Everything I Know About America I Learned from Stephen King 12

I never see a 7-Eleven Big Bite and don't instinctively desire to eat it. I know that Heinz ketchup is unmistakable and precious. A new paperback purchased with crisp American dollars? That's bliss. A Stephen King book? That's Shangri-la.

Big Fans 0

No Word on What He Thought of Richard Simmons 0

Tuesday New Release Day: Pessl, Shomer, McBride, Keneally, Banville/Black 0

The Grief Memoir: On Karen Green’s Bough Down 7

That Green's text, like her life, is marked by an awareness of suffering -- loss, grief, psychic alienation -- makes Bough Down, as excruciating as it is, deeply satisfying.

The Death of the Ingénue 5

Strong female characters now reign aplenty in literature without their necessary ingénue escorts, slowly eroding the role of that stock accompanying character. It’s not that these strong female characters newly exist, or that they suddenly gained mass appeal, but rather that they are surviving on their own.

Tatjana Soli on Paul Yoon 0

Flame Throwers 0

Skylight Addicts and Private Wonderlands: On the Garret Novel 1

The following garret novels introduce memorably reclusive protagonists, skylight addicts who, in their zealous guarding of their charmed rooms, stay true to the fortifying history of garrets.

The Darkness is Deep Indeed: On Javier Marías's The Infatuations 4

Javier Marías may be the only significant working writer to also be a king. As the sovereign of Redonda, Marías is the honorary monarch. His two-decade reign has nearly entirely consisted of bestowing titles on various artists -- John Ashbery is the Duke of Convexo, for example -- as part of an effort at tongue-in-cheek recognition.

Bright Young Thing 0

New Dave Eggers Book in October 0

The Artist and the Fly 5

The performer's recital is lovely, and the lilt and cadence of her voice are mesmerizing. But then halfway through, something happens that gets me thinking about artistry and solipsism and the fallout of one marrying up with the other. What happens is: A giant fly begins to circle the performer’s face.

So What? He Says 0

Lit Kids, Ctd. 0

The Map and the Territory: Infinite Boston 9

What I lacked before coming to the U.S. was an appreciation of the rootedness of David Foster Wallace's work in a specific geography. I had experienced only how the map could shape the territory. Living in Cambridge allowed me to see how the territory might conversely underpin the literary map.

Over Here, Over There: Said Sayrafiezadeh's Brief Encounters with the Enemy 0

This is not a book about there. It’s about here, what America feels like, here, and now, while at war.

Stieg Larsson's High School Fiction 0

John Lewis's March 0

“You Need a Rhyming Word? That’s What We Heard!” 0

Conversations & Connections, 2013 1

A Literary Hedonist In The Classroom: On Professor Borges 7

We can’t help being impressed by the incredible array of books and authors Borges discusses in his fictions and his essays, but we must remember that he read them because he loved them, because when he opened up those volumes he felt the “secret portals of heaven” opening up over his head.

Grocery Shopping with Jess Walter 0

Tuesday New Release Day: Hanif, Grossman, Barnes 0

Tuesday New Release Day: Ford, Theroux, Johnson 0

Tuesday New Release Day: Carey, Mieville, Murakami 0

Tuesday New Release Day: Irving, Morrison, Mantel, Colbert, Patchett 0

Tuesday New Release Day: Franzen, Binet, Baldwin, Müller 0

Tuesday New Release Day: Boyd, Swift, Fifty Shades 0

Tuesday New Release Day: Rash, Evenson, Sontag, Wallace 0

Tuesday New Release Day: Grey, Clowes, Enright, Shin 1

Tuesday New Release Day: Shriver, Leyner, Keret, Sebald, Larkin 0

Tuesday New Release Day: Harkaway, Nescio, Lehrer, Kerouac, Galassi 0

Tuesday New Release Day: Robinson, Groff, Julavits, Arvin, Leonard 0

Tuesday New Release Day: Kunzru, Harrison, Krasznahorkai, Levin, de Botton, Haggadah 0

Tuesday New Release Day: Edugyan, D'Agata, Manguso, Ullman, Herbert, Shadid, Baseball 0

Tuesday New Release Day: Hassman, Taylor, Nooteboom, Powell 0

Tuesday New Release Day: Englander, Chaon, Boo, Ausubel, Gaddis, Burroughs 0

Tuesday New Release Day: St. Aubyn, Erickson, Sendker, Mockingbird 0

Tuesday New Release Day: Dovlatov, Wolitzer, Moore, Sickels 0

Tuesday New Release Day: Johnson, Auslander 0

Tuesday New Rease Day: Nesbø, Tillman 0

Tuesday New Release Day: Desai, James, Gordon-Levitt, Beach, Mueller 1

Tuesday New Release Day: Bernhard, Martin, Dickens 0

Tuesday New Release Day: Bolaño, Crichton, Sondheim 0

Tuesday New Release Day: DeLillo, Tulli, Ozick, Martin 0

Tuesday New Release Day: King, Eco, Schulze, Vonnegut, Catherine, Gallaway 1

Tuesday New Release Day: Didion, Freud, Obreht 0

Tuesday New Release Day: Thompson, Stephenson, Adiga, McGinniss, Silverstein 2