Just in time for today’s Booker announcement, a pair of shortlisters are now (or will be tomorrow) available stateside: In a Strange Room by Damon Galgut and The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson. Ian Frazier’s big travelogue (generously excerpted in the New Yorker) Travels in Siberia is out, as is Adam Levin’s massive The Instructions from McSweeney’s. Three more: Djibouti by Elmore Leonard, How to Read the Air by Dinaw Mengestu, and a gorgeous Library of America edition of “six novels in woodcuts” by pioneering graphic novelist Lynd Ward.
At Condalmo, Matthew Tiffany‘s review of David Lipsky’s new book, Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip With David Foster Wallace: “You can’t go more than two or three pages without Lipsky’s shadow falling over the text. And you aren’t reading this book for the Lipsky, are you? The biggest problem here is that, like it or not, his fingerprints are all over it. And I didn’t like it.”
What do you do when McSweeney’s rejects your humor piece? You could, like most people, slink off and write something new, perhaps after a quick look at the site to get a better sense of what they’re looking for, or you could write a new humor piece about getting rejected by McSweeney’s. At The Nervous Breakdown, Rachel Pollan takes the latter route (with a cameo by the movie Swingers).
Having kicked off his career with a book of poetry, it’s not surprising that Ben Lerner is interested in the late Johns Hopkins professor Allen Grossman, who theorized that people dislike poetry because poems are — by definition — failures. In a piece for the LRB, he runs through the implications of Grossman’s theory, touching on poets as disparate as Shakespeare and William McGonagall. Pair with Kate Angus on why Americans don’t buy poetry books.