Tom Wolfe’s next book will be a “nonfiction account of the animal/human speech divide,” reports Sarah Weinman. Presumably this effort – entitled The Kingdom of Speech – will be based on the author’s “Human Beast” lecture from 2006. (A lecture he went on to explicate in a 2008 interview with SF Gate.) Hopefully the Great White Suit’s return to straight nonfiction will prove more successful than his attempt at fictionalizing Miami last year.
2. Wei-wu-wei: Deliberate decision not to do something. Chinese. From an online list compiled by Feedbacq.
3. Prozvonit: To call a mobile phone to have it ring once so that the other person calls back, saving the first caller money. Czech and Slovak. Allegedly.
“Walter Benjamin would have loved this guy Tom Knox. In our age of mechanical reproduction, for starters, Tom Knox is an immaculate work of artifice. He keeps cranking out books even though he doesn’t exist. Tom Knox, you see, is the pen name for Sean Thomas, a peripatetic British novelist, journalist, blogger, and travel writer. What’s more, The Babylon Rite, the fourth novel by ‘Tom Knox,’ works overtime to live up to Benjamin’s dictum that all great works of literature must either dissolve a genre or invent one.”
Tuesday New Release Day
New this week: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, Carnival by Rawi Hage, In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods by Matt Bell, Children of the Jacaranda Tree by Sahar Delijani, the collected letters of Italo Calvino, and the seventh issue of McSweeney’s food mag Lucky Peach.
Joyce Carol Oates turned 75 years old yesterday, and she’s now writing some of the best fiction of her career.
And so despite my esteem for the high challenge of writing, for the reach of the writerly life, it’s not something anyone actually wants me to do. The American mind has made that very clear, it has said: ‘Be a specialised something — fill your head with the zeitgeist, with the technical — and we’ll write your ticket.’
In Virginia Woolf’s terms, Oates has put as much of her art down on the page as possible, has expressed herself completely, achieving ‘the prodigious effort of freeing whole and entire’ the work that is in her.