The nominees for the 2011 PEN/Faulkner fiction award have been announced. The books in the running are Millions Hall of Famer A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (Egan profiled at The Millions); The Collected Stories of Deborah Eisenberg (Eisenberg profiled at The Millions); National Book Award winner Lord of Misrule by Jaimy Gordon; Model Home by Eric Puchner (one of our “20 More Under 40“); and Aliens in the Prime of Their Lives by Brad Watson (Brad Watson’s Year in Reading 2009).
There’s a certain narrative voice with an unspoken aim to exonerate the speaker from wrongdoing. It occurs in novels, though it’s most common in monologues, especially those which take up the entirety of a play. At Bookforum, Lurid and Cute author Adam Thirlwell lists a number of examples, including Hunger by Knut Hamsun and Wars I Have Seen by Gertrude Stein.
“A few weeks ago, I texted my writing group, ‘All I really want is to be just famous enough to have my own celebrity book club.’ I was kind of kidding. But I kind of wasn’t. Because, like portion-packaged organic snacks delivered to your door, isn’t book club ownership one step closer to having it all?” Laura Briskman on the faux intimacy of celebrity book clubs, as more and more celebrities start their own post Oprah.
“Of course, his word-pictures don’t define the art of poetry—nor are they meant to. In part they exemplify it; in part provide a warning that such an art eludes straightforward setting out in words.” On Horace’s and Archibald MacLeish’s Ars Poetica.
The release date for Thomas Pynchon’s new novel is three weeks away, and to mark the occasion, Boris Kachka runs through a quick biography of the perpetually mysterious author. Among other things, Kachka points out that Pynchon resides in a fairly odd neighborhood for a recluse to choose to live in — the Upper West Side. (Previously: “Thomas Pynchon to Publish New Novel” and “New Thomas Pynchon Teaser.”)
Two ways of looking at a book: “Had I been still more articulate, I might have said that there’s a special readerly pleasure in approaching a book as you would a box. In its self-containment lies its ferocious magic; you can see everything it holds, and yet its meagre, often hackneyed contents have a way of engineering fresh, refined, resourceful patterns. And Emily might have replied that she comes to a book as to a keyhole: you observe some of the characters’ movements, you hear a little of their dialogue, but then they step outside your limited purview. They have a reality that outreaches the borders of the page.”