The Empress of Salt and Fortune - Nghi Vo (2020) [2020 Tor.com edition] designer: Christine Foltzer, illust.: Alyssa Winans.

The Cat Who Saved Books - Sōsuke Natsukawa (2017) [2021 HarperVia edition] designer: Yuko Shimizu.

Opium and Absinthe by Lydia Kang.

The Broom of the System - David Foster Wallace (1987) [2016 Penguin Orange Collection edition] designer: Eric Nyquist.

The following is a text I’ve been thinking about writing for years. Both as a cautionary tale to anyone getting into photography, and as an explanation for why I stopped. I’ve been reluctant to share this, but here’s what happened.

There are different ways of combining quotation and punctuation marks. In the American style, you almost always put periods and commas inside the quotation marks:

Dr Johnson kicked a large rock and said, as his foot rebounded, “I refute it thus.”[1]

It is only an accident of evolution, as it were, that the senses we are born with are not adapted to feel such things “directly.”[2]

In the British style, however, you put periods and commas outside the quotation marks, unless they are part of a complete sentence that is fully contained between the quotation marks:

Dr Johnson kicked a large rock and said, as his foot rebounded, “I refute it thus.”[3]

It is only an accident of evolution, as it were, that the senses we are born with are not adapted to feel such things “directly”.[4]

When faced with this contrast, the proper reaction is to recoil in horror at the first approach, and to look approvingly on the second. In the sentence beginning with It is only …, the quotation is a part of the sentence, and the sentence contains the quoted word.

Read More

The Line That Held Us - David Joy (2018) [2018 G.P. Putnam’s Sons edition] designer: Michael Morris.

No Gods, No Monsters - Cadwell Turnbull (2021) [2021 Blackstone Publishing edition] designer: Kathryn Galloway English.

A place called perfect by Helena Duggan (2012).

Type “Edgar Allan Poe” into your preferred image search engine, brace for impact, and press Enter. Instantly you hit a wall of chalk-white faces, each conveying a mixture of despair, dyspepsia, grief, wonderment, and wounded pride. Some are actual daguerreotypes, while the rest are fan art or movie stills inspired by those antique likenesses. In every case, one has the distinct feeling that misery could not ask for better company. This is Poe.

Now try searching “Poe Osgood portrait” instead. What comes up this time is a face totally different from those in the previous set. It can’t be the same person. There is color in his cheeks and light in his eyes, and his brow looks quite unburdened. The expression registers as neither menacing nor miserable, but magnanimous. This too is Poe.

It is Samuel Stillman Osgood’s more human version of the poet, novelist, and critic that interests us here. That the portrait has become emblematic of a close friendship between Poe and Frances Osgood, the artist’s wife, makes it still more surprising, because Poe is not supposed to have had friends. Even granting that authors are not their works, it is hard to imagine chatting amicably with the man behind “The Pit and the Pendulum.” Yet evidence shows that plenty of people did. Poe formed many generative friendships through the years, even as time, circumstance, and his own complicated temperament conspired to deny him others. In the twilight of his short life, having survived or somehow alienated everyone he loved most, Poe seemed to feel the absence of friends as both a fate worse than death and a harbinger of it. He did not want to be alone with himself.

Read More

The Human Zoo - Sabina Murray (2021) [2021 Grove Press edition] designer: Anamaria Morris, illust.: Ronald Ventura.

Is the manuscript tucked away somewhere? Was it destroyed? Or are the few known chapters all that ever existed? A deep dive into one of literature’s most enduring riddles.

John Holmes covers on Lovecraft.

Forty years after his breakout story, “Johnny Mnemonic,” the father of cyberpunk remains one of the best writers around…

Several People Are Typing - Calvin Kasulke (2021) [2021 Doubleday edition] designer: Michael J. Windsor.

Three Rooms - Jo Hamya (2021) [2021 Mariner Books edition] designer: Kelly Winton.

Kafka - The Trial (cover by Anthony Russo).

WHEN MY FRIEND Charles McNair and I met the great Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges in New Orleans, he was 82 years old. As aspiring novelists, we were drunk on the work of the Latin American magic realists. Borges’s cryptic, compressed tales such as “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius” and “The Garden of Forking Paths” were the olives in our Latin martini.

Born in 1899, blinded in the 1950s by a congenital disease, Borges had come from Buenos Aires to lecture at Tulane University on aesthetics and the notion of meaning. The place he most wanted us to take him was Preservation Hall, the small stuffy room just off Bourbon Street where the last remnants of old-style Dixieland are still performed. He stood in the back letting the “waves and waves of jazz” roll over him.

On the morning we met him in 1982 in his suite at the Fairmont Hotel, he was attended by Maria Kodama, the lovely young Japanese Argentine factotum who later became his second wife. (When he died in 1986, polite Argentina was outraged that he left his entire estate to her.)

Read More

All Shades of Iberibe - Kasimma (2021) [2021 Sandorf Passage edition] designer: Karo Akpokiere.

Dancing with the Tiger - Lili Wright (2016) [2016 Marian Wood Books/Putnam edition] designer: Bianca Tschaikner.

Playing for the Commandant - Suzy Zail (2012) [2014 Candlewick Press edition] designer: Matt Roeser.