"School for Girls," by Jordan Buschur

This Week In Literature – Sept. 8 – 14

Latest and Best Book News of Late Where I troll the best and most eclectic book reviews, blogs, journals, etc, and cull the wheat from the chaff for you, because you don’t have time too. And because I have excellent taste, admittedly...  A summary of lit news for those with taste too refined to rely entirely on BuzzfeedBooks but not smart or brave enough to wade through the dense New York Review of Books analyses (like me). 

  • This is one of the saddest anniversaries for me. Six years ago today, David Foster Wallace hung himself. I remember that day well. I was in a treatment center in St. Louis that day, and I cried like a baby. @LettersOfNote has tweeted some letters as well as humorous lists about him today. Including: this 1995 letter to another favorite author of mine, Don DeLillo, seeking advice on writing as DeLillo reviewed the galleys of DFW’s forthcoming Infinite Jest. There are also some word lists – DFW liked scribbling down such lists of words he became fond of or found noteworthy. Also, here is  previously unpublished, handwritten list of David Foster Wallace, titled, “Midwesternisms.” It’s in the recently published Lists of Note book. Man, I may now have to buy this book, even though I can’t afford it, if for this list only. #DFWobsessed…. !


  • Here’s a fun infographic on interesting tidbits about America’s libraries (for example, there are 165,986 of them) by Book Patrol.
  • Fans of Margaret Atwood will have to wait a century to read her next novel! She is the first author to announce participation in the Future Library Project, in which 100 authors will write 100 original manuscripts to be published 100 years from now. Read the story by The Globe and Mail here. (Also, if you need some new Atwood reading sooner, she just published a short story collection, Stone Mattress: Nine Tales.) 
  • The New Yorker has an interesting piece by author Dani Shapiro on what social media means for the state of the literary memoir today. Among other insightful observations, she says, “I worry that we’re confusing the small, sorry details—the ones that we post and read every day—for the work of memoir itself… I can’t tell you how many times people have thanked me for ‘sharing my story’ as if the books I’ve written are not chiseled and honed out of the hard and unforgiving material of a life but, rather, have been dashed off, as if a status update, a response to the question at the top of every Facebook feed: ‘What’s on your mind?’ I haven’t shared my story, I want to tell them. I haven’t unburdened myself, or softly and earnestly confessed. Quite the opposite. In order to write a memoir, I’ve sat still inside the swirling vortex of my own complicated history like a piece of old driftwood, battered by the sea. I’ve waited—sometimes patiently, sometimes in despair—for the story under pressure of concealment to reveal itself to me…” Beautiful writing here… 
  • Barnes & Noble is launching an Espresso Book Machine at three store locations, including New York’s Union Square. The machines print books on demand—then collate, cover and bind them in minutes. The print-on-demand tool is geared toward indie authors for printing their books when someone orders it online. Story via Good E-Reader.
  • I just discovered author Ben Lerner thanks to  NPR’s review of his new book, 10:04, which sounds fantastic. He also apparently wrote another very novel novel (yes that repeat was intentional), Leaving the Atocha Station. I’ll be adding both books to my Goodreads shelf! 
  • Also, via NPR, I read about what sounds like a very cool profile in The Atlantic about a guy  who used to dig through John Updike’s trash: “[Paul] Moran has kept thousands of pieces of Updike’s garbage — a trove that he says includes photographs, discarded drafts of stories, canceled checks, White House invitations, Christmas cards, love letters, floppy disks, a Mickey Mouse flip book, and a pair of brown tasseled loafers. It is a collection he calls ‘the other John Updike archive,’ an alternative to the official collection of Updike’s papers maintained by Harvard’s Houghton Library. The phrase doubles as the name of the disjointed blog he writes… “
  • David Mitchell, the author of the widely celebrated Cloud Atlas (also released as a movie last year) has a new book out, The Bone Clocks. It sounds like I might be able to actually read this one. Again, as with Murakami, I haven’t been able to stick with Mitchell’s other stuff…
  • A never-published chapter of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has been released by Ronald Dahl’s estate. You can read it on The Guardian‘s site.
  • For my fellow Wes Anderson devotees, here’s  an article in the New Republic reviewing the work of 19th century, Austrian writer Stefan Zweig, one of the inspirations for Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel. Yet another author to put on my list. Isn’t one of the saddest things about life the fact that we’ll never be able read all the books we want to?!
  • You’ve probably been seeing the popular meme, “List 10 books that have stayed with you in some way” circulating on Facebook the past two weeks. Check out lit lovers’ most 20 beloved books, based on Buzzfeed Book’s look at almost 13,000 status updates by Buzzfeed Books. 
  • Here is a helpful guide at The Millions, for people who can’t stop buying or checking out books, on how to decide what to read next – by Sonya Chung. A fiction writing professor at Skidmore College, she also happens to be the founding editor of Bloom – a publication I’d never heard of but intend to check out considering its subject: a literary site devoted to highlighting, profiling, reviewing, and interviewing authors whose first major work was published when they were age 40 or older. Perfect! 
  • “School Days” is a nice collection of short stories from the archives of The New Yorker published in this week’s issue. Many of the stories are told from perspective of teachers, who are not infallible, after all…
  • Of course, Haruki Murakami has been all over Bookworld news due to the release last month of the English translation of his last novel, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage. However reviews have been generally not-so-great. (See, for example, The Millions‘ review here.)  I devoured 1Q84 but have never been able to get into any of Murakami’s other novels. So I’m not sure if I’ll try this one out or not. Oh, also, Murakami made headlines again last week when it was announced that he will also have a novella coming out in December, involving a boy held captive in a library and forced to read books. Well, that sounds great to me – but, as Murakami’s stuff always does, the plot gets much stickier and eerily-magical-realismly as it goes along… At any rate, I’m tired of all these Murakami tweets and am just waiting for the next Kazuo Ishiguro book to come out (apparently, next March).

Print this article

One comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *