Martin Amis’ The Pregnant Widow is out today (Kakutani sez, “remarkably tedious” but The Guardian adds, “Amis might draw comfort from the long and distinguished list of Kakutani’s literary victims.”) Also out, Sebastian Junger’s War, the result of time spent embedded with a platoon of the 173rd Airborne brigade in Afghanistan.
“As young writers in Balzac walk around Paris pitching historical novels with titles like The Archer of Charles IX, in imitation of Walter Scott, today an aspiring novelist might seek his subject matter in a neglected corner or along some new frontier of neurology.” Marco Roth questions the rise of the “neuronovel” at n+1.
Richard Branson has built a global business empire (Virgin Group) around the philosophy “have fun and the money will come.” Branson’s new book, Screw Business as Usual, says there’s a way to make money and also do good. And speaking of having fun, watch Branson and Steven Colbert get into a fire extinguisher/water fight.
England, as you know if you’ve ever read A Christmas Carol, has a long tradition of telling ghost stories around Christmas. What else could you read besides the Dickens classic to partake? At The Paris Review Daily, Colin Fleming lists a number of candidates, including Smee by A.M. Burrage and The Kit-Bag by Algernon Blackwood. You could also check out our reading list for December.
Cat Marnell and Alana Massey both have new books out, and they are, in their own ways, variants on the genre of “confessional” writing. In an essay for Slate, Katy Waldman unpacks their essential appeal and their arguments, describing how each goes about the task of reinventing the concept of the memoir. You could also read our interview with Massey.
Historians N. D. B. Connolly and Keisha N. Blain have done us all a serious solid by assembling a syllabus of readings around “what many simply call ‘Trumpism’: personal and political gain marred by intolerance, derived from wealth, and rooted in the history of segregation, sexism, and exploitation.” The self-directed course contains readings from more than 100 scholars – including Audre Lorde, Aziz Ansari, and Ta-Nehisi Coates – and aims to “introduce observers to the past and present conditions that allowed Trump to seize electoral control of a major American political party.”