Posts Tagged: New York Review of Books
So familiar have the aesthetic conventions of horror become that it is increasingly difficult to distinguish “real” Halloween movies from parodies. Something similar has occurred in our political life.
At the New York Review of Books, Christopher Benfey shares a brief history of collisions between humor and horror in Western literature (and American politics)....more
At the New York Review of Books, Joyce Carol Oates writes about Shirley Jackson through her seminal story “The Lottery,” her contemporaneous public perception via hate mail, the figure of her presented in literary biographies, the self she expressed in essays and works of memoir, her marriage made in hell, her abuse of powerful psychotropic drugs—amounting to a wonderfully haunting literary presence in the American Canon....more
Over at the New York Review of Books, Zoë Heller writes about American Girls by Nancy Jo Sales and Girls and Sex by Peggy Orenstein: how each book deals with the concepts of female “hotness” and body positivity in the social media age—as well as her own critiques of books that may fall within the genre of “middle-aged people complaining about the mores of the young.”...more
What does “modern single woman” even mean anymore?
Over at the New York Review of Books, Lorrie Moore investigates the idiosyncratic legacy of Helen Gurley Brown, the once and future editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan....more
But what about those writers who move to another country and do not change language, who continue to write in their mother tongue many years after it has ceased to be the language of daily conversation? Do the words they use grow arid and stiff?
Race was—is—the fundamental American issue, underlying not only all matters of public policy (economic inequality, criminal justice, housing, education) but the very psyche of the nation.
Nathaniel Rich, for the New York Review of Books, writes a loving tribute to and overview of the works of James Baldwin: the intellectual as impossible to be pinned down, writing transcendently about the present....more
For the NYRB, Tim Parks meditates on writing in English through investigating various authors who made switches from native tongues to the more economically viable lingua franca, like Nabokov and Conrad—or who did the exact opposite, like Jhumpa Lahiri—all in effort to answer the question: Why write in English?...more
Be unpredictable, including to yourself. So there’s the question of how do you go about finding things—or better their finding you? You have to be open to surprise and at the same time assiduous in pursuing the things you are really interested in.
Lorrie Moore writes an extensive ode to her weird home state of Wisconsin, and its newest national sensation, the Netflix documentary series Making a Murderer. The well-acclaimed Wisconsin author’s viewpoint on the series and its setting is interesting, to say the least, and well-deserving of its patented Lorrie Moore Exclamation Points....more
If rats then represent terror and chickens innocent striving for something approaching authenticity, humans, for Lispector, are strangely in the middle, often stricken with fear, or handing out terror, but ready also to soar or break loose or achieve some freedom or be fully alert to their fate in a time short enough for one of her stories to be enacted.
For many Mexican-Americans, Trump’s campaign is nothing new. It fits within repeating cycles of attraction and rejection for Mexican immigrants in this country and connects with a long history of challenges that citizens of Mexican descent have faced to their place in the society.
Can Haruki Murakami write a financially unsuccessful novel at this point in his career? What would it take for him, or a writer with a similar sales history, to fail to sell? And what does this tell us about the novels we continue to publish?...more
Over at the New York Review of Books, Geoffrey O’Brien discusses iconic poet and punk-rocker Patti Smith’s new memoir, M Train:
What the book expresses supremely well is the tentativeness of every movement forward, the sense of following a path so risky, so sketchily perceptible, that at any moment one might go astray and never be heard from again, never perhaps even hear from the deepest part of oneself again.
Can dolphin sonar penetrate the steel hull of a boat—and pinpoint a stilled heart? Can dolphins empathize with human bereavement? Is dolphin society organized enough to permit the formation of a funeral cavalcade?
The New York Review of Books reviews Carl Safina’s Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel and explores what, if anything, separates humans from other animals....more
In a world where no romantic attachment meant you were turned into an animal, which creature would your lonely self choose?
Francine Prose, author of Bullyville, Blue Angels, and many others, writes about the strange, wholly imagined parallel worlds of Yorgos Lanthimos, whose new movie The Lobster premiered at the New York Film Festival in August....more
The English tend to be reserved, reticent, but Shakespeare flows like a great river, he abounds in hyperbole and metaphor—he’s the complete opposite of an English person. Or, in Goethe’s case, we have the Germans who are easily roused to fanaticism but Goethe turns out to be the very opposite—a tolerant man… It’s as if each country looks for a form of antidote in the author it chooses.
Creativity is an essential component of a healthy economy, and Western nations are doing a terrible job of fostering intellectual creativity. Writers, artists, and thinkers are underpaid, as developed economies have given priority to a corporate model of shareholders and profits rather than innovation....more
How do we reread and is it necessary? Tim Parks demystifies the art of going back to a text for the third, fourth and fifth time....more
(n.); the process of forgetting;
“Curiously enough, one cannot read a book: one can only reread it. When we read a book for the first time, the very process of laboriously moving our eyes from left to right, line after line, page after page, this complicated physical work upon the book, the very process of learning in terms of space and time what the book is about, this stands between us and artistic appreciation.”
–Vladmir Nabokov, from “Good Readers and Good Writers”
This week, Tim Parks takes us on a wonderfully meditative reflection on something we tend, as readers, to take for granted: the physical act of moving one’s eyes across the page, of engaging with words, and—unavoidably—forgetting them....more
How is it possible that even when I know nothing about a novelist’s life I find, on reading his or her book, that I am developing an awareness of the writer that is quite distinct from my response to the work?
Part of what’s fascinating about the Broadway adaptation, with its script and lyrics by Lisa Kron and music by Jeanine Tesori, is how closely it adheres to the outline and details of Bechdel’s story—yet so differs from the book that it seems to be a related but entirely original work.
More banally we may stand at the luggage collection carousel watching endless bags tumble onto the belt. We hold in our minds a shadowy idea of our own bag. Then suddenly it is there and the effort of “visualizing” ceases. Perhaps we realize that the bag is not quite as we remembered it.