If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the new books and culture website The Nervous Breakdown. They’ve already got a great interview with Millions favorite Dan Chaon, as well as some interesting essays that I’m looking forward to digging into. I also like their “self-interview” series–where writers ask, and answer, their own questions.
David Lodge never set out to be a writer of campus novels, but that may end up being his legacy, thanks to his most famous books, Changing Places and Small World. In the LRB, Stefan Collini reviews a new book of essays and an autobiography by the author, the latter of which covers the first forty years of his life.
New this week is Monica Ali’s “what if” novel about Princess Diana, Untold Story. Also out is Bright’s Passage, an effort, which readers appear to be taking seriously, by singer-songwriter Josh Ritter to cross over into literary fiction. Finally, short story master Bobbie Ann Mason has a new novel out, The Girl in the Blue Beret.
“A vast human action is going on. Death watches. So if you have some happiness, conceal it. And when your heart is full, keep your mouth shut also.” Saul Bellow saw a bit of resurgence this year with the publication of his collected non-fiction, There Is Simply Too Much to Say. Why do we need him now more than ever? According to Michael Weiss at The Daily Beast, it’s because he has “a bit of the opposition in him.” This essay is exhaustive and thoroughly researched and well worth your time.
When did the air of scandal surrounding Philip Roth give way to a kind of reverence? At a certain point, Roth lost his reputation for controversy. In The New Republic, Adam Kirsch investigates the odd story of Roth’s career, including evidence from Claudia Roth Pierpoint’s new book about the author, Roth Unbound (which we reviewed).