Heads up: On Monday we'll be posting the second half of the great 2012 books preview. It's like Christmas in July! But with books instead of some strange intruder dressed in red velvet. Because it's too hot for velvet right now, if we're being honest. But yes! Monday!
Is Little Century a “woman’s book?” I asked myself this as I read, mostly lamenting that it probably is, from a marketing perspective. It’s a book about a girl, after all, and far fewer men read books about girls than women read books about boys; the math on that is pretty clear.
But it’s also a book about insiders and outsiders, friendship, forgiveness, love of the land, male mid-life ambition, corporatism, journalistic integrity, racial prejudice. (It is not, thankfully, a book about a girl who finds her boy: the ending, which I won’t give away completely, is quite satisfying in the way it allows us to choose-our-own-adventure). It’s a book with both a big heart and a big mind, not to mention a generous soul.
“Strayed finds the worm buried at the bottom of a pile of dirt, pulls it out like a thread, and slices it open. The innards of the innards: that’s where she starts. As Sugar puts it, “This is where we must dig.”— Jessica Gross on Tiny Beautiful Things, the new book by Cheryl Strayed
“But like prophets and seers, writers are driven by a force, an irresistible desire to give to the inner impulses, the material form of sound, color and word. This desire cannot be held back by laws, tradition, or religious restrictions. The song that must be sung will be sung; and if banned, they will hum it; and if humming is banned, they will dance it; and if dancing is banned, they will sing it silently to themselves or to the ears of those near, waiting for the appropriate moment to explode.”— Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’ospeaks at The Sunday Times Literary Awards
“The first time I read Nora Ephron, I was in a bookstore in Kathmandu and I was twenty-two and very lonely. I picked up a pink copy of “Heartburn” and sat on the floor of the shop next to my enormous and filthy backpack and I didn’t get up again until I’d finished the book. I no longer felt lonesome.”— Ariel Levy recalls the first time she read Nora Ephron. Links to this and many more essays on the late Ephron here.
“Thayil is a poet, and it shows in the prose, which contains countless moments of great beauty. His debut is an unsettling portrait of a seething city, a beautifully-written meditation on addiction, sex, friendship, dreams, and murder.”—Dispatches from an Opium Den: Jeet Thayil’sNarcopolis by Emily St. John Mandel
“Are there people trying to be novelists who are really meant to be sociologists or politicians or theologians? Absolutely. The world is filled with extremely intelligent people who want to be novelists but whose intelligence doesn’t help them in that regard. In fact, it often hurts them.”—Joshua Henkin, interviewed for The Millions by Anna Solomon.
“We are all still born, struggle through puberty, stumble through a first job, fall in love. Last I checked, we all still die too. What has changed is the knowledge, method, and language for living. “The longer we live, the longer we die,” Lepore writes near the closing pages. She could also say: the more we know about living, the harder living becomes.”—Austen Rosenfeld “A Matter of Life and Death: Jill Lepore’s The Mansion of Happiness”
“The most important literature we write in the Anthropocene will be the words that enable us to ensure breathable air, drinkable water, nutritious food, and the persistence of the abundant life that makes it all possible on this rocky mothership.”—David Biello, “Welcome to the Anthropocene”
“The tweet is a literary form of Oulipian arbitrariness, and the straitjacket of the form has determined the schizophrenia of the content. A tweet is so short that you can get right to the point — but so short, also, that why should it have one? Twitter’s formal properties bend, simultaneously, in opposite directions: toward the essential but also the superfluous, the concise but also the verbose. […] But two-faced Twitter has also brought about, in its opposite aspect, the very last thing to have been expected from the internet: a renovation of the epigram or aphorism, a revaluation of the literary virtues of terseness and impersonality.”—The Editors of N+1, “Please RT”