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Top Book Blogs 08/2016

[The Millions] “One More for the River”: On Writing Challenges
To satisfy his creditors, Fyodor Dostoevsky famously wrote The Gambler in four weeks. He was a roulette demon with a habit of losing more than he won. If he finished this new book in less than a month, all his debts would be cleared; if he failed, he’d lose everything. Dostoevsky pulled it off,

[Book Forum] PAPER TRAIL: Pope Benedict XVI to publish an autobiography; J. K. Rowling announces end to “Harry Potter”
Pope Benedict XVI, who resigned in 2013, has signed a book deal with Bloomsbury to write his autobiography. Last Testament, to be co-written with German journalist Peter Seewald, will be released internationally in November. The book describes his childhood during the Third Reich, charts his rise to

[Book Forum] OMNIVORE: Are we in the Anthropocene yet?
Humans have altered the planet for ever

[Book Forum] DAILY REVIEW: From Russia with Love
In Secondhand Time, the latest work of non-fiction by Nobel laureate Svetlana Alexievich, the frank and harrowing confessions of Homo sovieticus are recorded for posterity. By way of candid conversation, Alexievich sounds out disenchanted voices from across the former USSR. Here is an oral history

[Book Forum] OMNIVORE: All this and more
Allies put out literal bounty

[The Millions] They’re So Tough
“I liked the war parts the most, but peace was fine. It was fine.” It seems as though Trump has taken a liking to Tolstoy. Over at Electric Literature, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump makes book blurbs great again. The post They’re So Tough appeared first on The

[The Millions] Leemos En Español
“You are what you brought from your country? Or you are what you learned here?” The New York Times visits Librería Barco de Papel, one of New York City’s last remaining Spanish-language bookstores. The space also operates as a community and cultural center for the Jackson

[Book Forum] OMNIVORE: The most dangerous organization in human history
Donald Trump is a Republican

[Book Forum] VIDEO: After Words with Nancy Cohen, "Breakthrough"

[The Millions] One Monster Replaces Another: On John Domini’s ‘Movieola!’
Nathanael West’s classic novel The Day of the Locust, unsurpassed in the writers-writing-about-Hollywood genre, ends with West’s would-be painter protagonist Tod Hackett in the back of an L.A. police cruiser, attempting to determine whether the noise he hears is the squad car’s siren or his

[The Millions] My Shoes Remain On
“The Terminal C Baja Fresh sign gleams like living flame. I feast. The salsa bar is limitless. The refills overflow. I browse John Grisham courthouse thrillers within Hudson Booksellers for 15 minutes… or was it a millennia? Time is a breath to me now.” Jeff Loveness for

[Book Forum] OMNIVORE: Interminable features
One part of this beautiful republic

[The Millions] Unevenness As Virtue
“The concept that being American means, by definition, having an ideal that you’ve failed to live up to—that’s another crucial thing I learned from [James Alan] McPherson. It is not a rejection of America for Michelle Obama to note that her daughters are growing up in a house built by

[Book Forum] OMNIVORE: The politics of American sport
The lucrative mainstream of spectator sports

[The Millions] A Complete Reading
Recommended Reading: From The New Yorker, it’s Tessa Hadley on fiction as anthropology: “When I’m writing a story, its world is thin, unsatisfactory, untrue, until I start to find my way to those details, those ‘small cultural signifiers.’ As these accumulate on the page,

[Book Forum] DAILY REVIEW: Diane Arbus: Portrait of a Photographer by Arthur Lubow
If every biography peddles the aura of the unknown with a promise of revelation, Diane Arbus: Portrait of a Photographer acknowledges a darker obfuscation from the start. As his book’s fitting epigraph, Arthur Lubow chooses the artist’s cryptic challenge to anyone attempting to uncover

[The Millions] Rich People Problems: On Jay McInerney’s ‘Bright, Precious Days’
Anyone who has followed Jay McInerney’s long career has watched his gradual shift from a would-be F. Scott Fitzgerald to a kind of modern male Edith Wharton at home in the very circles of wealth and prestige his younger self so desperately yearned to break into. In the best of his early books,

[The Millions] Tuesday New Release Day: McInerney; McGinniss, Jr.; Lee; Sjón; Vapnyar
New this week: Bright, Precious Days by Jay McInerney; Carousel Court by Joe McGinniss, Jr.; How I Became a North Korean by Krys Lee; Moonstone by Sjón; and Still Here by Lara Vapnyar. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-Half 2016 Book Preview. Support The

[Book Forum] PAPER TRAIL: Kevin Young named director of Schomburg Center
Poet and writer Kevin Young will be taking over for historian Khalil Gibran Muhammad as the director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York. Young is currently a professor and curator of rare books at Emory University, “where he helped spearhead a number of major

[Book Forum] OMNIVORE: To aid America's poor
American policy fails at reducing child poverty because it aims to fix the poor

[Book Forum] OMNIVORE: Only beginning to come into view
Good question

[The Millions] Anxiety of Influence
“Cursed Child … is an act of overreach that feels mandated not by [J.K.] Rowling’s desire to fill out details but by an entertainment industry intent on reviving and rebooting anything that’s ever made money.” Sophie Gilbert reviews Harry Potter and the Cursed Child for The

[The Millions] Au Revoir, Harry
While we’re on the subject of Harry Potter, I have some bad news. According to J.K. Rowling herself, Cursed Child is likely the last we’ll ever see of the boy (now middle-aged) wizard: “He goes on a very big journey during these two plays and then, yeah, I think we’re done. This

[Book Forum] VIDEO: Mario Vargas Llosa: Living Legend Award Ceremony

[Book Forum] OMNIVORE: How low Trump can go
Whatever one may say about ordinary voters, the real sinners here are Republican leaders

[The Millions] A Short Endorsement of Anton Chekhov for Your Next Beach Read
Short story collections undoubtedly reign supreme as the most optimal reading material for the beach. They don’t require the mental commitment that a full-length novel does, they allow for a sense of accomplishment every time you finish one in the collection, and, perhaps more importantly, they

[Book Forum] OMNIVORE: Set it and forget it
Using proof to create

[The Millions] Lost and Found and Lost
Recommended Reading: On translation and Máirtín Ó Cadhain, author of Cré na Cille, which is widely believed to be the greatest Irish-language novel of the twentieth century. The post Lost and Found and Lost appeared first on The Millions.

[Book Forum] OMNIVORE: Accommodating religion
How much may religious accommodations burden others?

[The Millions] Multi-Tasking
“When you want to read a long book, for reasons of weight a paperback must do, and you’ll just have to suck it up re: its inevitably smaller print and wind-catchingly thinner pages.” Here’s a handy guide to reading while you walk from the good people over at The Awl. The post

[Salon Books] The Salon author questionnaire: “The word ‘nice’ makes me break out in hives”

[Book Forum] SYLLABI: John Middleton: Reforming the Racist Criminal Justice System

[Book Forum] PAPER TRAIL: “The Underground Railroad” included in Oprah’s book club; NYPD’s Bill Bratton steps down
Colson Whitehead’s new novel, The Underground Railroad, was released yesterday, one month early, in a surprise move to coincide with the announcement of its inclusion in Oprah’s book club. For now, the book is only available in the Oprah-approved format. This weekend, the Times will feature a

[Book Forum] PAPER TRAIL: “The Underground Railroad” included in Oprah’s book club
Colson Whitehead’s new novel, The Underground Railroad, was released yesterday, one month early, in a surprise move to coincide with the announcement of its inclusion in Oprah’s book club. For now, the book is only available in the Oprah-approved format. This weekend, the Times will feature a

[The Millions] Aeneas, My Grandfather, and the Memory of War
In the first book of Vergil’s Aeneid, we meet the hero as he is tossed at sea in a storm sent by the vengeful goddess Juno, who hates him. He throws up his hands and, in his first speech of the epic, proclaims lucky the ones who lie dead and buried in Troy. This is a moment of great despair; with

[Book Forum] OMNIVORE: Voting this election
Donald Trump, discovering new way to undermine democracy, calls election rigged

[Book Forum] OMNIVORE: A wonderful mess
Nearly unprecedented

[The Millions] Happy Birthday, Baldwin
Yesterday was James Baldwin’s birthday. Revisit “Stranger in the Village” or Justin Campbell’s essay on fatherhood and Baldwin in celebration of his life. The post Happy Birthday, Baldwin appeared first on The Millions.

[Book Forum] VIDEO: James McBride on James Brown and American Soul

[Book Forum] OMNIVORE: What if Trump dropped out?
Donald Trump begins contemplating the unthinkable

[The Millions] Writing-Dude-in-Nature Territory
“In Pond, Claire-Louise Bennett stomps all over writing-dude-in-nature territory with her poetic unraveling of Thoreau’s wilderness jaunt.” A. N. Devers on Bennett’s celebrated new collection. The post Writing-Dude-in-Nature Territory appeared first on The Millions.

[The Millions] Heaney’s Aeneid: Book VI
Book VI of The Aeneid is a tough one for non-classicists to love.   The central theme of the book — about 900 lines of Latin dactylic hexameter, the epic verse — is the imperial destiny of Rome. At first glance, Vergil lets his poetic license run freely in defense of empire. The

[Book Forum] DAILY REVIEW: White Nights in Split Town City by Annie DeWitt
It is fitting that White Nights in Split Town City, the strange and striking debut novel by Annie DeWitt, opens with "When" by Sharon Olds, a poem that pairs atomic dread with the familial. A young mother hears a "noise like somebody's pressure cooker / down the block, going off." Holding her small

[The Millions] Kraus on Amazon
Exciting news: Jill Soloway (Transparent) is adapting Chris Kraus’s I Love Dick for Amazon. You could also check out Kraus’s Year in Reading. The post Kraus on Amazon appeared first on The Millions.

[Book Forum] OMNIVORE: Completely misled
Everything throughout life

[The Millions] Required Reading
What are college freshman reading? NPR shares a few selections from around the country. A recent study found that “The list of readings continues to be dominated by recent, trendy, and intellectually unchallenging books.” Our own Nick Ripatrazone writes about the difference between

[Book Forum] OMNIVORE: Japan's push
Should we be turning Japanese?

[The Millions] Little Big League
What does the Man Booker prize mean for independent presses? On Salt, Saraband, and Oneworld, the three indie publishers with books on the Man Booker longlist this year. The post Little Big League appeared first on The Millions.

[The Millions] The Art of the Eulogy: On ‘Dead People’
Eulogies are our gifts to the dead. The late James Alan McPherson wrote one such eulogy for his student at the University of Virginia, Breece D’J Pancake. Pancake was an eccentric West Virginian, a “constitutional nonconformist.” A “lonely and melancholy man” who loved to drink and owned

[Book Forum] PAPER TRAIL: 2016’s highest-paid writers; Patton Oswalt to finish late wife’s book
The Forbes list of 2016’s highest-paid writers notes that “the written word isn’t dead—although television and movie adaptations often help drive sales.” James Patterson, whose novel Zoo was adapted into a TV series that’s now in its second season, topped the list. Diary of a Wimpy Kid

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