Literally Reading About Literature | Wyatt’s World

Our attachment to the literary concept can be so addictive that even as we read we want to discover books, authors, and, yes, reading. The delights of such an undertaking can be indulged in the following array of titles, due out soon or already published.


  • An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine (Grove, Feb.).
    Alameddine’s fourth novel, set in Beirut, Lebanon, features Aaliya, a 72-year-old translator who reflects upon literature and the existence she has forged within its grip. This lyrical exploration of a life focused on the meaning of words should resonate with literary fiction fans.
  • The Dream of the Great American Novel by Lawrence Buell (Belknap: Harvard Univ., Feb.).
    This tome is something akin to the whale in Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick—an oft allusive and always obsessive quest. Buell casts a wide net in his discussion of what might constitute such a novel and explores a number of choices in this smart, lively, and accessible survey.
  • The Way of All Fish by Martha Grimes (Scribner).
    In the sequel to Foul Matter, Grimes offers a send-up of the publishing world, weaving into her mystery a skewering of literary agents and others. Fans of witty, fun, and clever whodunits will rejoice in both Grimes’s glee and her fast-moving plot.
  • Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan (Ballantine).
    The author of Loving Frank returns with a riveting and finely crafted imagining of the lives of Robert Louis Stevenson and his American wife, Fanny Osbourne. The novel follows many threads, among them the Stevensons’ literary friends and Robert’s creative inspirations.
  • Why I Read: The Serious Pleasure of Books by Wendy Lesser (Farrar).
    Lesser, editor of The Threepenny Review, has spent her career reading. In this meditation, she musters all her experience to discuss a wide range of types and forms of literature. With great skill she explores the pleasures of reading and the qualities of a literature-rich life.
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Annalisa Pesek About Annalisa Pesek

Annalisa Pesek ( is Assistant Managing Editor, LJ Book Review
[photograph by John Sarsgard]