Despite recently winning the Booker Prize, Howard Jacobson writes a list of his favorite novels about failure for the WSJ: “This category is, of necessity, a crowded one. Novelists are drawn to failure. Those who prosper, or expect to prosper, in the world as it is have no need to re-imagine it.”
Serious reading is harder than ever. With so many distractions around, it’s incredibly difficult for a novel to keep our attention. In The Nation, Joanna Scott makes a case that careful reading is in danger, and builds a case for preserving difficult fiction. You could also read our own Nick Ripatrazone on trying to teach Thomas Pynchon.
From the person who brought you Infinite Boston comes Infinite Atlas, an interactive map of the places that make up Infinite Jest, and, for the truely devoted, the Infinite Map, a framable print version of that atlas. Page-Turner offers an extended preview of D.T. Max’s Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story. Maria Popova highlights a few of the signature DFW words that he adopted from his mother.
“What women do in the books mentioned here doesn’t consist of survival so much as sabotage. They throw bricks and rocks and flaming bottles into the chinks of the masculine world machine, then pick up a gun and fire into the turning gears. If rape and other sexual violence, religious servitude, and the politically determined inaccessibility of contraception can be seen as acts of war, stories like these may not just be a means of escapism. In the mind’s eye, they might be weapons, to be picked up, opened, and deployed.” At the Boston Review, Elizabeth Hand looks at women who fight back in fiction, from Gone Girl to Medea.
Norris Church Mailer, widow of Norman Mailer, died yesterday at 61 following a long battle with cancer. Mark Olshaker, president of the Norman Mailer Society, wrote: “She was the pilgrim soul who captured and won Norman’s heart and mind and who shared with him the last three decades of his life.”
Out this week is Russian author Vladimir Sorokin’s Day of the Oprichnik. Coinciding with that release, NYRB Classics is putting out Sorokin’s Ice Trilogy. Georges Perec’s The Art of Asking Your Boss for a Raise is now on shelves, as is Stewart O’Nan’s Emily, Alone, in which he revisits the Maxwell family from his 2002 book Wish You Were Here.