The dialogue novel is often deeply intellectual. Recalling the conversations of Socrates and Plato, it allows for freewheeling philosophical inquiry. The lack of solidified characters and settings engenders abstraction, an open space where jokes, digressions, and ideas can roam wild. Diderot’s Jacques the Fatalist and his Master, first published in France in 1796, tells of chummy Jacques and his humdrum master. To pass the time on their journey, Jacques regales his master with tales of love and loss. Regardless of what happens—whether it’s tragic, banal, absurd, or romantic—Jacques claims it was written up above, meaning everything is predetermined, meaning that the course of our lives was set before we ever got here, which raises questions about the deterministic nature of existence, among other things.
Tuesday New Release Day
Dave Eggers has a new novel out this week, while Neil Gaiman has an illustrated version of a previously published story on shelves. Also out:I Love You More by Jennifer Murphy; The City Son by Samrat Upadhyay; and The Last Magazine by the late Rolling Stone reporter Michael Hastings. Support The Millions: Bookmark this link and start there when you shop at Amazon.
When I first travelled, I was naive, sloppy, wide-eyed, and nothing happened to me. That’s probably where the dumb luck came in. Then I began to read the guidebooks, the State Department warnings, the endless elucidation of national norms, cultural cues and insults and regional dangers, and I became wary, careful, savvy. I kept my money taped inside my shoe, or strapped to my stomach. I took any kind of precaution, believing that the people of this area did this, and the people of that province did that. But then, finally, I realised no one of any region did anything I have ever expected them to do, much less anything the guidebooks said they would. Instead, they behaved as everyone behaves, which is to say they behave as individuals of damnably infinite possibility. Anyone could do anything, in theory, but most of the time everyone everywhere acts with plain bedrock decency, helping where help is needed, guiding where guidance is necessary. It’s almost weird.
But by the far the most influential contribution Eggers has made on the literary landscape is McSweeney’s, the so-called “Quarterly Concern” that has, for the last 15 years, produced some of the most original fiction and nonfiction out there, all packaged in some of the most beautiful and innovative book designs ever printed. Who is this young man? We didn’t know, but when it became clear what it was that he was doing, we all became very interested in his doings.
Once again, another Dave Eggers novel is coming with barely any notice. Knopf will publish Eggers’s latest, Your Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever?, on June 17. The title is longer than the plot description, but the new novel will follow a man named Thomas who interrogates a NASA astronaut about their connection.
Michele Filgate was so terrified by Dave Eggers’s The Circle that she quit social media for a week and wrote about the experience for Salon. “I don’t want to become like Mae, sacrificing real-life friendships for the allure of the screen. I want to be aware of the world around me. I want to write about that world. I want to feel more alive, even if that means being lonelier in the process.” Pair with: our review of the novel.
Tuesday New Release Day
New this week: The Circle by Dave Eggers; Dirty Love by Andre Dubus III; How to Read a Novelist by former Granta editor John Freeman; Solo, a new James Bond novel by William Boyd; and “the first in-depth overview of Wes Anderson’s filmography” by the New York Magazine TV critic Matt Zoller-Seitz.
It’s official, kids: Dave Eggers will publish a new novel this fall. Named The Circle, the book tells the story of Maeve Holland, a woman who takes a job at a Google-esque company in California. Despite the seemingly idyllic nature of the fictional company’s campus, Knopf assures us that the book is “a novel of suspense.”