As a young girl in the 1980s, Melissa Carroll played with My Little Pony dolls, in part because, as she puts it, "I knew I'd better have one." Nearly thirty years on, she's fascinated by the new surge of interest in the dolls, especially the interest displayed by the men who call themselves Bronies. At The Rumpus, her Sunday essay on the rise of the Brony and gender dynamics in America.
Although Jon Fosse is not well known in America, his work is revered in his native Norway, where he stands on a par with his onetime student and American celebrity, Karl Ove Knausgaard. In a piece for The Paris Review Daily, Damion Searls argues for Fosse’s relevance, claiming that Fosse is the only writer whose work made him weep as he translated it. You could also read Jonathan Callahan on Knausgaard’s My Struggle.
New this week: Voices in the Night by Steven Millhauser; Gutshot by Amelia Gray; The Dead Lands by Benjamin Percy; The Turner House by Angela Flournoy; The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma; The Fair Fight by Anna Freeman; Lurid and Cute by Adam Thirlwell; The Given World by Marian Palaia; The Winter Family by Clifford Jackman; Diamond Head by Cecily Wong; and Whispering Shadows by Jan-Philipp Sendker. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great 2015 Book Preview.
There are all kinds of arguments for reading the canon (Italo Calvino's come to mind) but why should we spend time reading untested contemporary authors? Tim Parks tackles this question, with a little help from Virginia Woolf, for The New York Review of Book's blog, and his argument pairs well with Guy Patrick Cunningham's Millions essay on reading the classics.
Alice Munro announced her retirement from writing this week. “Perhaps, when you’re my age,” she told a National Post reporter, “you don’t wish to be alone as much as a writer has to be.” Previously the Canadian author announced her retirement in 2006, but that didn’t stop her from publishing two more books – including her latest story collection, Dear Life (Millions review). The uninitiated can get a primer on her entire oeuvre by checking out our comprehensive Beginner’s Guide to Alice Munro. See also: “Can Writers Retire? Let Us Count the Ways”
"An appeal for the revival of the negative book review, then, is a remonstration against forced and foppish praise, where everything is good and so nothing at all is good." In The Baffler, Rafia Zakaria writes in praise of negative book reviews and decries the "enfeebling of literary criticism." From our archives: our own Emily St. John Mandel writes about bad book reviews.
The finalists for the 2016 Hugo Awards were announced a few days ago, and it looks like the reactionaries may have struck another blow. A group which calls itself "The Sad Puppies" has been stirring up political controversy at the Hugos for a few years now. Founded in 2013 by writer Larry Correia, who was highly critical of the Hugos for favoring what he believed were “academic” works that allegedly promote "left-leaning messages," the Puppies have since campaigned vigorously to have writers whose ideologies line up with their own make the final ballot.