"The universal periodic table of the human condition": On the eve of possibly the most-anticipated literary novel of the summer (yes, it's good), The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, Wyatt Mason profiles David Mitchell, whose native modesty masks only slightly a vast and endearing ambition:
"I can't bear living in this huge beautiful world," Mitchell said,
gesturing to the rolling green hills and the glittering calm sea, "and
not try to imitate it as best I can. That's the desire and the drive.
But it's maybe closer to hunger or thirst. The only way I can quench it
is to try to duplicate it on as huge a scale as I can possibly do. I
want to capture that," he said, turning in a circle on the
sand and gesturing beyond the beach and the hills, "all the way around
the world and all the way to your home and all the way around and back.
I want to do all of that here and transmit it through ink."
Life, the universe, and everything: According to early announcements about his upcoming book, The Grand Design, his "first major release" in nearly a decade (coming in September), Stephen Hawking has even greater ambitions for his new work:
According to Hawking, we are very close to an understanding, not just
of the workings of our universe, but of its very beginnings. Drawing on
forty years of Hawking's own research and a recent series of
extraordinary astronomical observations and theoretical breakthroughs,
Hawking and Mlodinow examine the evidence for the existence of a
'unified theory'--a single theory that can describe and explain all the
forces of nature.
Now we know it's a phenomenon: Stieg Larsson gets the honor of a New Yorker parody, courtesy of Nora Ephron:
Someone might still be following him"”but who? There was no real way to
be sure even when you found out, because people's names were so
confusingly similar"”Gullberg, Sandberg, and Holmberg; Nieminen and
Niedermann; and, worst of all, Jonasson, MÃ¥rtensson, Torkelsson,
Fredriksson, Svensson, Johansson, Svantesson, Fransson, and Paulsson.
Moving and shaking: What's caused Olivia Munn's new book, Suck It, Wonder Woman!: The Misadventures of a Hollywood Geek, to jump into our Movers & Shakers list this morning? Dave Itzkoff's NYT profile last Friday? Her recent elevation from the G4 network to "Senior Asian Correspondent" on The Daily Show?