Tayler Lord and Anna Weir are publicists at UNP who share a cubicle currently filled with paper coffee cups. Today they also share their thoughts about a few upcoming titles they’re particularly excited about as readers. The books in this discussion will be published in June.
Anna Weir: So my English Major might be showing right now, but I’m looking forward to The Cruft of Fiction: Mega-Novels and the Science of Paying Attention by David Letzler. It takes an honest approach to reading frightfully huge and important “mega-novels.” Anyone who’s ever had to slog through the whaling terminology chapter in Moby Dick will enjoy how Letzler distinguishes text that’s confusing but crucial to the story from “cruft,” the derailing tangents he names after the computer science term for junk code. I’m most excited that it takes the discussion beyond older books like James Joyce’s Ulysses. More contemporary books, like Haruki Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and Roberto Bolaño’s 2666 are also addressed.
What first on your list, Tayler?
Tayler Lord: My first pick is Ellen Browning Scripps: New Money and American Philanthropy by Molly McClain. Ellen Browning Scripps and her brother E.W. Scripps built a chain of newspapers in the late nineteenth century that were on par with the Pulitzer and Hearst papers. I was a journalism major for a hot second and the only part of it I really enjoyed was learning about the Hearst empire in a reporting class. The history of journalism and lives of newspaper heavyweights can be fascinating (Citizen Kane, anyone?). I’m excited to learn about this less-celebrated news company through the story of Ms. Scripps.
What’s next for you?
AW: Next for me—yup, now my Religion Studies minor is showing—is Chanting the Hebrew Bible by Joshua R. Jacobson. This updated edition is perfect for students and seasoned cantors alike, with grammatical rules, a weekly Torah reading guide, and a link to a new website with audio recordings and video lessons. My Hebrew’s a little rusty now, but I’ve always been fascinated by how regional and grammatical variations—or in this case, dramatic chanting—can deepen the meaning of the original text.
What else are you excited for this month?
TL: Working on Crossing the River Kabul: An Afghan Family Odyssey by Kevin McLean feels very important right now. It’s the story of Baryalai Popal, an immigrant from Afghanistan, and his escape from the country after the Russian invasion in 1980 and eventual return. It’s a very timely story; I think it’s important for us to share stories like these, especially now. It feels like we only talk about immigration alongside policy and partisanship and it becomes so sterile. We lose sight of the people and their individual stories. Crossing the River Kabul is a warm and evocative, even humorous at times, example of one such story.
Tune in next month for more great titles from your friendly neighborhood publicists!