“Every whole person has ambitions, objectives, initiatives, goals. This one particular boy’s goal was to be able to press his lips to every square inch of his own body.” The New Yorker posts a new short story, “Backbone,” by David Foster Wallace.
It’s that time of year again, readers. It's time to stock up on gossip, skim through pieces on your favorite writers and populate your bookmarks with pages from Ladbrokes and Intrade. It's time, in other words, to prognosticate the Nobel Prize winner, which Ladbrokes predicts will be the novelist Haruki Murakami. If you read Ben Dooley's review of 1Q84, you might have placed your bets already.
Chief among your more anxiety-producing kinds of literature is the genre of books geared towards expectant mothers. Examples of the genre offer every bit of advice imaginable -- much of it contradictory -- and condemn a laundry list of relatively common behaviors. At Salon, our own Lydia Kiesling recounts her own dive into the pregnancy-lit waters. This might also be a good time to read fellow staff writer Edan Lepucki on the perils of reading while expecting.
In another excellent essay from LARB's new site, Morten Høi Jensen takes a close look at the work of Martin Amis to discuss the theme of masculinity, the arc of his oeuvre, the seductiveness of his distinct tone and the dangers of falling for it. For more on Amis, check out our expose of Invasion of the Space Invaders, the near-forgotten first work by Amis in which the young author details the gritty world of arcade gaming.
"There are people who believe that readers and writers—at least the right kind of readers and writers—are special snowflakes, existing on a more exalted plane than mere mortals. Book people are educated. They are privileged. They are brave enough to speak out when the emperor shows up naked. They sup on nectar from flowers grown on the sunny slopes of Mount Olympus, harvested by chiton-wearing MFA candidates." Jennifer Weiner responds to bad Amazon reviews, book blogs, and elitist " book people" in an essay for The New Republic. We especially enjoy the line about the chitons.
You may have heard that Glenn Beck, sower of anxiety about Obamanomics, is also a shill for gold coin dealer Goldline. But here's a conspiracy theory for you: Does Glenn Beck also have a stake in the modish French theoretical organ Semiotext(e)? The truth is out there, people.
This essay from Adrian Barnes at The Daily Beast on cancer and fiction and how the two mirror one another is eerie and fascinating. This review of Rebecca Solnit’s The Faraway Nearby from The Millions addresses this tendency of writing and real world illnesses to feed of of one another.