A weekly selection of reading and book news, sometimes with completely inappropriate commentary.
It seems to be the season for blog closings: first Bookslut, now The Toast. This is a hell of a closing paragraph in this tribute: "The Toast's satire was medicine for the slight tightness in my chest when I walk into another museum filled with paintings of clothed men and dead-eyed, nude women, or my inability to swallow yet more novels with self-serious male anti-heroes and decorative women (here's looking at you, Jack Kerouac). It's like the old saying: Laughter is the best cure for the nauseating omnipresence of the male gaze. Thanks, the Toast."
When biography gets personal: evidently Jean Edward Smith's new huge biography of George W. Bush begins with the line: "Rarely in the history of the United States has the nation been so ill-served as during the presidency of George W. Bush."
Do we care, really? Elizabeth Gilbert has announced she is separating from her husband "Felipe," a main character in her memoir Eat, Pray, Love. I even enjoyed that memoir but find it interesting that Gilbert announced the separation on her Facebook account, and this is considered "book news."
Futurist Alvin Toffler: has died, at age 87. I read his big book, Future Shock, roughly a million years ago and found it very interesting, although I can't remember anything about it. Evidently he is credited with coining the term "information overload."
Elie Wiesel has died, also aged 87.
PBS NewsHour: the next Oprah for books?
Garrison Keillor has told his last stories about how the women are strong, the men are good looking, and the children are all above average.
The new Litsy social reading app. I don't know. Evidently it will help you talk about books with friends. Am I completely off base, or sometimes is it nice to talk about books with friends without opening another app? I am seriously lost in this app-happy world.
Huh, a zombie novel I've never heard of (The Girl With all the Gifts) is now a movie. Somebody please explain the apparently endless appeal of zombie novels to me?
Dave Eggers's The Circle...the ultimate best-seller? For some reason, everything about this article makes me want to hit the people involved (except not you, Dave Eggers, I still like you), although I try not to be a violent person. I also don't understand this article. So this computer algorithm predicts what books will be bestsellers? And it picked this Eggers novel, which sold hardly any copies? And these people (I really dislike the super-casual black-and-white picture of the blandly good-looking creators of the algorithm too) don't know whether to "take a sledgehammer to it [the algorithm], or buy it dinner"? BLEAH.
Cormac McCarthy is not dead (and doesn't give a shit about Twitter). Awesome. Go read the entire (short) article. You need the laugh. Trust me.
Here's a genre for you to try and get your mind around: "weird as fuck horror"
Flavorwire: Must-read books for July. Actually, an interesting list. God love Flavorwire. In particular I want to see Dan Zak's Almighty: Courage, Resistance, and Existential Peril in the Nuclear Age. Dig it: "In 2012, three activists — an elderly nun, a house painter, and a Vietnam veteran — broke into the “Fort Knox of Uranium” in Tennessee to protest nuclear proliferation. After spending hours inside, they waited to be arrested. Now, even if this act of protest failed to eliminate the nuclear threat wholesale, its success at spotlighting the contradictions in the fact of nuclear armament is nonpareil. Zak traces the origins of the protest from the perspective of each activist, and, in the process, uncovers the insane contradictions of life in the nuclear age." Also of interest here: the novel The Transmigration of Bodies, by Yuri Herrera. The description of that one puts me in mind of Paolo Bacigalupi's The Water Knife, which was one of my favorite novels last year.
Ewan McGregor news: a trailer for "American Pastoral" (Question: will my abiding love for Ewan McGregor beat out my abiding hatred of Philip Roth when I decide whether or not to see this movie?); and a review/trailer of the upcoming adaptation of a John Le Carre spy thriller, of "Our Kind of Traitor." Can any fellow Ewan Fan out there tell me exactly when he Americanized the hell out of his teeth? In "Shallow Grave" I think he had his own British teeth. They were so cute. I miss them. (Side note: McGregor also obviously did not vote for the UK to leave the EU in the Brexit vote.)
Lena Denham as "that one feminist on campus"...tee hee.
Evidently "Orange Is the New Black" is a ratings powerhouse.
This week's Obligatory Neil Gaiman post: Neil Gaiman to Retell Norse Myths in New Book.
New Bridget Jones trailer! I know. We're all getting a little old for this sort of thing. But I do think Renee Zellweger has really done a nice job of making Bridget her own. I didn't particularly need to see this movie until I saw the Emma Thompson bits in this trailer, and now I will have to go, because I do love Emma Thompson.
Quite possibly my very favorite Summer Book Club suggestions list ever: courtesy of Khloe Kardashian. The woman ranges from Haruki Murakami (really, Khloe? I will bet everything I have on you never having actually read Haruki Murakami) to The Girl on the Train and back again. Do you know, I remember a time when I didn't know who the Kardashians were? I kept seeing their names on People magazine while in the grocery store line, and I always wondered, who are these people, and why are they on People? I miss those days.
Amazon Kindle and how it can "navigate literary thickets." Pretty fancy way of saying there's a new way to save your place on your ebook page when you want to look at something else in the book.
A freshly-printed book in the time it takes to brew an espresso to go with it?
The female bachelor. An interesting article on unmarried female characters in books.
A fun mini-collection: How To books. Got any title collections yourself?
J.K. Rowling reveals more about "America's Hogwarts"--sure, it's all a marketing ploy in advance of the release of Fantastical Beasts and Where to Find Them, but I have to give the woman credit; she's not lazy about turning out content.
LitReactor calls John Swartzwelder "the funniest writer you're not reading." Evidently he's a long-time Simpsons writer...who knew? Anyone read any of his novels?
Book sales: not so great right now.
I'm a sucker for a good baseball book, and for articles about reading and books at the Christian Science Monitor. This list combines to sucker-punch me!
Oh, Zuck, you crazy kid, you. Anti-wall crusader Mark Zuckerberg puts up massive wall.