George R.R. Martin is happy to talk about hats, Big Bang Theory, really anything that's not his next goddamn book

We have to assume it’s kind of tiring to be George R.R. Martin, a man who’s spent the last several decades of his life pushing a boulder called A Song Of Ice And Fire up a hill called “Dear God, I’m going to be writing this thing until I’m fucking 80.” That fatigue is presumably not helped by the fact that the boulder…

A historic fire illuminates an enduring institution in Susan Orlean’s The Library Book

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Early in The Library Book, Susan Orlean describes the joy of scanning a library’s shelves and discovering the dramatically different subjects that have somehow become neighbors. “On a library bookshelf, thought progresses in a way that is logical but also dumbfounding, mysterious, irresistible,” she writes.

Chris Gethard on his new book, his old TV show, and not taking the “cult” part of “cult hero” literally

It’s always a good time to talk to Chris Gethard. Hundreds of people regularly vie for that opportunity, waiting for him to tweet the phone number for Beautiful/Anonymous, a podcast that is built entirely of Gethard taking calls from unidentified strangers. But now seems like a particularly good time to talk to the…

Read an excerpt from Zack Handlen and Todd VanDerWerff’s X-Files book—with special guest Vince Gilligan

On October 16, Abrams Press will release Monsters Of The Week: The Complete Critical Companion To The X-Files. Written by A.V. Club contributor Zack Handlen and former A.V. Club TV editor Todd VanDerWerff, the book adapts and updates the duo’s popular TV Club Classic recaps, supplementing them with cast and writer…

Murakami’s usual flights of fancy can’t save the mundane Killing Commendatore

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The unnamed narrator of Haruki Murakami’s new novel, Killing Commendatore, is a recently divorced painter. He resents the marvelous success he’s had as a portrait artist for the wealthy and wishes to use his newfound freedom to get back to his artistic roots. After accepting an invitation to live at the unoccupied…

The Social Network is a masterpiece—does it matter that it bent the truth?

It’s become widely accepted that a movie adapting a novel should use its source as a guide rather than a strict blueprint. If a change would improve the film, then that change should be made. The book isn’t sacred, nor should it be. This becomes more complicated when it comes to nonfiction. It’s one thing to tweak the…

“A little dirty thrill”: The sly, wry danger of Diane Williams’ short fiction

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To call a writer a stylist can be a backhanded compliment. One is acknowledging their skill, while at the same time implying there may be something masturbatory in that skill. Over time, “stylist” has increasingly come to signify an author who’s a little too fond of the sound of their own voice, the kind of person who…

Original Matilda illustrator Quentin Blake revisits her, 30 years older and living her best lives

Roald Dahl’s Matilda remains one of the most beloved kids books ever, a funny, sometimes scary reminder that, while reading and imagination can’t always protect kids from the shitty things that life throws at them, it can at least help them to survive. As with many of Dahl’s classics, much of Matilda’s charm comes…

After soaring for 5 volumes, Knausgaard brings My Struggle in for a rough landing

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Karl Ove Knausgaard is the most well-documented writer alive today. Across the first five volumes of My Struggle, the Norwegian novelist rendered in exacting detail seemingly every memory he could access. These recollections are often painful (Book One dealt largely with Karl Ove and his brother, Yngve, cleaning up…

An obscure but enduring science fiction author finally gets his due

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If you’ve read David R. Bunch, there’s a good chance it’s because of Harlan Ellison. The famed author (and renowned grouch of popular culture) selected not one, but two short stories by the little-known writer for his landmark 1967 New Wave sci-fi collection, Dangerous Visions—the only contributor to have more than…

A bunch of great-bad '70s and '80s horror paperbacks are lurching back into print

Grady Hendrix’s Paperbacks From Hell was one of the non-fiction treats of 2017, a smart, funny look back at the horror paperback boom of the 1970s and ’80s, when all you needed was some gorgeous cover art and a blockbuster to rip off and you, too, could be a gory publishing mastermind. We noted in our review of…

The first trans man to box in Madison Square Garden spars with masculinity

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A boy isn’t supposed to hit a girl, even when she throws the first punch. It’s the first thing many of us learn about masculinity, on the playground or the school bus. So it feels familiar when Amateur author Thomas Page McBee panics when asked to spar with fellow boxer Larissa. It doesn’t matter that she’s been…