“We live in the age of opinion — offered instantly, effusively and in increasingly strident tones. Much of it goes by the name of criticism, and in the most superficial sense this is accurate.” The New York Times approached six accomplished critics, Stephen Burns, Katie Roiphe, Pankaj Mishra, Adam Kirsch, Sam Anderson, and Elif Batuman to explain, in the spirit of Alfred Kazin, “what it is they do, why they do it and why it matters.”
Lev Grossman offers some first thoughts on Every Love Story is a Ghost Story, the David Foster Wallace biography written by D.T. Max due out in September. More interestingly, Grossman wonders whether we’re nearing the death of hysterical realism, that manic, maximalist genre James Wood defined in his review of Zadie Smith’s White Teeth.
BOMB Magazine sits down with Rebecca Makkai, author of Music for Wartime and The Hundred-Year House. “People love to underrate plot, because it makes them sound like they’re beyond it, like plot is best left to Danielle Steele.“ For more Makkai, check out our interview with her.
This review of Paul Murray’s newest novel, The Mark and the Void, praises Murray for his biting, weapons-grade one-liners and calls it “the funniest book ever written about the international banking system.” Here’s a link to our own, particularly hilarious interview with Murray.
Frank Stanford isn’t the most well-known American poet, but he is one of the most revered, at least according to his contemporaries. At The Rumpus, David Biespeil writes about a new collection of the poet’s work, remarking that “no American poet I have ever met regardless of disposition or poetics has disliked Frank Stanford’s poems.”
io9 offers up "The Twenty Science Fiction Novels that Will Change Your Life," from Frankenstein to Pattern Recognition. (via)Cathleen Schine on the charms of Peter CareyThe "Thomas Bernhard cult" claims a new initiate.F.O.T.M. (Friend of The Millions) Lydia Millet talks about "endangered species, the idea of motherhood, and her stint at Hustler.""Why do scribblers make drinking their second art? For one thing, it primes them for their task." Writers and booze.Some American Studies undergrads at The University of Virginia have put together an online exhibit titled "The New Yorker Magazine in the 1930s."NPR's "In Character" segment considers Hawthorne's Hester Prynne.
The new book release schedule is slow in December, but the third book in Javier Marías' acclaimed Your Face Tomorrow trilogy is now out, Poison, Shadow, and Farewell. Also, new on shelves is The True Deceiver, a 1982 novel by the Finnish writer Tove Jansson from NYRB Classics.