David Remnick’s biography of President Obama, The Bridge is out. (The Times explained how Remnick finds time to run the New Yorker and write a 700-page biography of a sitting president.) Also new: Another chronicle of the collapse, The End of Wall Street by talented financial journalist Roger Lowenstein; Nobel laureate Jose Saramago’s “blog book” The Notebook; another in the posthumously published oeuvre of Irène Némirovsky, Dimanche and Other Stories; the latest from A.L. Kennedy, What Becomes; and Tom Rachman’s touted debut The Imperfectionists.
“To make money, I’m planning on teaching English, or coaching recreational soccer, or something. But that’s not important because apartments are cheap, and that part, kicking around a ball, or helping Thai children have a better command of the English language, even though I don’t speak a word of Thai, will probably only be a chapter in my book. Those things will provide some nice blog-potential details, too. They’ll show the texture of my everyday life.” Travelling to the East for the sole purpose of writing a memoir.
New this week are Mario Vargas Llosa’s The Dream of the Celt, Soul of a Whore and Purvis: Two Plays in Verse by Denis Johnson, Living, Thinking, Looking: Essays by Siri Hustvedt, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, and Team Cul de Sac, a book done in tribute to the great comic done by Richard Thompson and to raise money for research into Parkinson’s, which Thompson was diagnosed with in 2009.
“To say that late Victorian poetry is bleak would be akin to remarking that Wilkie Collins had a decent knack for plotting a novel. These poems are freighted with Gothic overtones, and it is not uncommon for some supernatural phenomenon to intrude upon what had started out as a seemingly harmless quatrain. We often encounter Death himself—or the Devil—who is something of a literary celebrity for the decadent poets. But what marks the best of these poems is that the outré is in service to something that we can think of as more desperate, and, wouldn’t you know, human.” Over at The Boston Review, an online-only essay looking at the peculiarities of Victorian decadent poetry.
“The ideas people project onto me are just that: their projections. And to a certain extent I can choose whether or not to accept them. But these projections also put me in peril, which is why I need to cultivate love. What’s more interesting to me is how I overcome the limiting biases that are projected onto me. If I didn’t discover positive paths, my experiences — and books — would be unbearably devastating. I am always more concerned with the path toward hope and change.”
Camille Dungy, esteemed poet and essayist in Sun Magazine answering the big questions on the environment, race, religion and Trump.
Literary fame is a knotty thing. It’s hard to predict exactly who will be known for centuries, and why. William Wordsworth, for example, owes at least part of his fame to the Lake District, which started to use him in their tourist campaigns not long after his death. In The New Yorker, Joshua Rothman takes a look at H.J. Jackson’s Those Who Write for Immortality. Related: Gina Fattore’s recent essay on fame and money.