• correspondence

Memo to William Maxwell: Read Balzac

During William Maxwell’s tenure as fiction editor of The New Yorker, one of his favorite and most frequently published authors was Sylvia Townsend Warner, whose stories became a staple of the periodical. Maxwell and Warner’s happy and profound literary friendship is chronicled in their copious correspondence, collected in The Elements of Lavishness. It’s a feast of intelligence and expression that will delight any devoted reader, even one unfamiliar with the works of the authors. From descriptions of hurricanes, blackouts, and other dramatic occurrences to accountings of mundane matters of domestic aggravation, from rites of private passage to painstaking tinkerings with the nuts and bolts of literary work, it’s a marvelous testament to a friendship.

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July 24: On this day in 1725 John Newton, the slave trader-preacher who wrote the hymn "Amazing Grace," was born.

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Paradise and Elsewhere

Canadian short story marvel Kathy Page emerges as the Alice Munro of the supernatural from these heartfelt tales of shapeshifting swimmers, mild-mannered cannibals, and personality-shifting viruses transmitted through kisses.

Pastoral

When a persuasive pastor arrives in a sleepy farm town, his sage influence has otherworldly results (talking sheep, a mayor who walks on water). But can he pull off the miracle of finding kindly local Liz Denny the love of her life?  Small wonder looms large in this charmer from Andre Alexis.

The Hundred-Year House

When a poetry scholar goes digging through the decrepit estate of his wife's family to uncover a bygone arts colony's strange mysteries, he awakens a tenacious monster: his mother-in-law. A wickedly funny take on aging aristocracies from author Rebecca Makkai (The Borrower).