John Scalzi's droll and even touching new novel, Redshirts, is a space opera which, at first, seems wryly and cynically to posit that a low-level grunt's life aboard a Big Government starship might resemble a Couplandesque cube-farm in space, except with killer ice sharks and carnivorous rock worms when the crew is on-planet. But their throwaway lives are not totally at the mercy of mere bureaucratic incompetence and disdain. No, more sinister cosmic forces are conspiring against Scalzi's crew, in the form of "The Narrative." And these added dimensions open out Scalzi's story into something much more earnest and significant than simple parody.
The front and back covers and the endpapers and the indicia and title pages of Ben Katchor's sumptuous new collection of strips from Metropolis magazine (appearing originally from 1998 to 2012) constitute a "bonus" story of sorts, seemingly coextant only with this project. The topic of the new piece? How wasteful, environmentally unsound and generally unworthy is the production of books in general and large, glossy art books in particular. The nearly criminal charges are leveled through the intermediary of one of Katchor's great obsessive amateur experts, Josef Fuss, who inveighs against many offenders, including "a deluxe full-color edition of an esoteric literary comic strip." In other words, against the very book the reader now holds.
Wondering what to get the chef in your life? We asked Christopher Kimball, founder and editor of America's Test Kitchen and author of such delicious cookbook classics as The Cook's Bible and Fannie's Last Supper, to share with us his Holiday Cookbook Buyer's Guide for 2011. Click to see his mouthwatering choices
Do not imagine that you have understood the concept of "antifragility" right away, merely because the neologism might readily bring to mind the famous quote by Friedrich Nietzsche, "That which does not kill us makes us stronger." Nassim Nicholas Taleb, who formerly explored unpredictability in refreshingly unpredictable fashion in The Black Swan, demolishes -- or at least fruitfully unpacks -- that stale rubric in just one of the myriad pithy, ideationally rich, hand grenade-style mini-chapters that constitute his new book, which is a bathyscaphe-deep descent into an unexplored sea of contrarian wisdom.
Spend more than a couple of minutes talking with the talented, down-to-earth, and very funny Wiley Cash, author of the critically-acclaimed 2012 Discover Great New Writers selection, A Land More Kind Than Home, and, well, it’s no surprise that his storytelling is mature and thoughtful. So here's Wiley on learning how to tell stories and handle literary rejections, what the characters he creates teach him about normal people, and answering an age-old question: Does seeing your roommate weep help dry your own tears? Interview by Michael Jauchen for the Discover Blog.
In this smart, freewheeling conversation, Scott Hutchins, author of Fall '12 Discover pick A Working Theory of Love, and Justin Torres, author of Fall '11 Discover pick We the Animals (and newly named to the National Book Foundation's prestigious 5 Under 35 list) swap working tips and literary theory, and riff on J. M. Coetzee and The Great Gatsby, birth order and method acting, among other things.
It’s sometimes hard to remember that A Land More Kind Than Home (Discover, Summer '12) is actually a first novel, but spend more than a couple of minutes talking with the down-to-earth and very funny Wiley Cash, and, well, it’s no surprise that his storytelling is mature and thoughtful. So here's Wiley on learning how to tell stories and handle literary rejections, what the characters he creates teach him about normal people, and answering an age-old question: Does seeing your roommate weep help dry your own tears? Interview by Michael Jauchen for the Discover Blog.
February 5: On this day in 1959, Carson McCullers hosted a small luncheon party in order that Baroness Karen Blixen-Finecke (Isak Dinesen) could meet Marilyn Monroe. By all accounts, the three women hit it off wonderfully -- though Arthur Miller says the legend of them dancing together on the marble-topped dinner table is an exaggeration.