A dissection of Jonathan Franzen’s recent New Yorker essay on David Foster Wallace finds Franzen’s wires showing.
Terrible sex writing spans the globe according to this year’s Bad Sex Award shortlist. It includes: My Education by Susan Choi, The Last Banquet by Jonathan Grimwood, House of Earth by Woody Guthrie, Motherland by William Nicholson, The Victoria System by Eric Reinhardt, The World Was All Before Them by Matthew Reynolds, The City of Devi by Manil Suri, and Secrecy by Rupert Thomson. The winner will be announced on December 3.
The biggest release of the week is, of course, the launch of the first Millions Original, Epic Fail (here’s our excerpt), by our own Mark O’Connell (We may be a bit biased there). Also out, Sam Roberts’s Grand Central, about the iconic train station, and, now available for the first time in a single, massive paperback volume, Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84.
For over twenty years, from the thirties through the fifties, a group of Oxford writers who called themselves The Inklings met weekly to drink, exchange ideas and read aloud their drafts. Though J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were easily their most famous members, the group had other notable figures, among them the language historian Arthur Owen Barfield. In The Chronicle of Higher Education, a history of the group.
Literary fiction is falling apart, but it might be for the best, Ted Gioia writes. In his essay, he explores the history of the fragmented novel (or the polyphonic novel as we’ve written about before) from Winesburg, Ohio to A Visit From the Goon Squad and fittingly, he does it in fragments.