Anonymous strikes again: On January 25th, the entity that brought us 1996’s deliciously scandalous Primary Colors: A Novel of Politics, offers a roman à clef for the Obama age: O: A Presidential Novel. Then it was Joe Klein, but this Anon. is still Anon. Perhaps better than the insider gossip: The media-fueled whodunit the novel’s sure to inspire.
What’s the best book Mary Roach has read recently? Tim Johnston’s first novel, Descent: “I read the last 30 pages in an airport, 10 feet from the gate, and did not notice the boarding announcements. I missed my flight for literature.” Bonus: Here’s Roach’s interview with The Millions from a couple of years back.
Geoff Dyer is fond of taking potshots at literary academics. He devotes considerable time in one of his novels to a professor whose speech at a conference goes off the rails. Which is why it’s odd that, in mid-July, the author showed up at a conference devoted to — what else? — his own work. (It’s apropos to point out here that our own Mark O’Connell wrote a great essay for Slate about Dyer.)
“Behind the collective feast and public ritual lies a personal dimension: the holiday as each of us has lived it, laughed about it, imagined it or reinvented it.” For their “My Thanksgiving” feature, The New York Times asked nine writers — including Parul Sehgal, Viet Thanh Nguyen, and Emma Cline — how they celebrate the holiday. Pair with Nguyen’s 2015 Year in Reading.
Out this week: Ninety-Nine Stories of God by Joy Williams; Sarong Party Girls by Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan; Pond by Claire Louise-Bennett; Break in Case of Emergency by Jessica Winter; The Heavenly Table by Donald Ray Pollock; Miss Jane by Brad Watson; The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon; and The Invoice by Jonas Karlsson. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-Half 2016 Book Preview.
“Let the buppie and the arts section go to hell: Swiss Army Man is a film by which critics ought to judge ourselves. We have seen this movie before, in our dreams, when we were children. Its extraordinary contact with our oldest forms of storytelling seems to have rendered it an unintelligible novelty, but if we can’t see how gracefully everything in it matters to everything else in it — plot to character development to dialogue to music to art direction to setting to acting to cinematography — then there’s something wrong with us.” Daniel Radcliffe stars as a semi-animate, gas-filled corpse with amnesia in Swiss Army Man — a movie about farts. But what else is it about?