Margaret Atwood is the author of The Handmaid’s Tale, Oryx and Crake, and The Blind Assassin, among other novels. Her new novel, MaddAddam, was published in September. (November 2013)
The Circle by Dave Eggers
The Meagre Tarmac by Clark Blaise
Anthill by E.O. Wilson
The Confessions of Edward Day by Valerie Martin
The Echo Maker by Richard Powers
Visa for Avalon by Bryher, with an introduction by Susan McCabe
Hope Dies Last: Keeping the Faith in Difficult Times by Studs Terkel
Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age by Bill McKibben
Child of My Heart by Alice McDermott
The Birthday of the Worldand Other Stories by Ursula K. Le Guin
Tishomingo Blues by Elmore Leonard
The Selected Letters of Dashiell Hammett, 1921–1960 edited by Richard Layman with Julie M. Rivett, and with a foreword by Josephine Hammett Marshall
Dashiell Hammett: A Daughter Remembers by Jo Hammett, edited by Richard Layman with Julie M. Rivett
Dashiell Hammett: Crime Stories & Other Writings selected and edited by Steven Marcus
Most dreams of writers aren’t about dead people or writing, and—like everyone else’s dreams—they aren’t very memorable. They just seem to be the products of a psychic garburator chewing through the potato peels and coffee grounds of the day and burping them up to you as mush.
Not long ago, I found myself having a Twitter conversation with a rotating skull. Its picture shows a skull turning around and around against a black background. Its handle is simply @rotatingskull. Its self-description is cryptic: “I am a skull that rotates.” When I asked it how I might make my own head rotate in this attractive manner—something I have always longed to do, as it would be a visual description of my state of mind in the mornings before caffeine—it told me I should view The Exorcist backwards while sprinkling holy water. Then it sent me a YouTube of itself in younger days, when it still had a skeleton, featuring as the prima ballerina—or ballerino—in the 1929 Disney Silly Symphony, The Skeleton Dance.
A long time ago—less than a year ago in fact, but time goes all stretchy in the Twittersphere, just as it does in those folksongs in which the hero spends a night with the Queen of Faerie and then returns to find that a hundred years have passed and all his friends are dead…. Where was I?