Darryl Campbell has had enough of the clichés abundant in book reviews so he’s devised some alternatives. “If fine artists aren’t your thing,” Campbell writes, “then maybe American presidents might be a better comparison: ‘Taft-like excess,’ ‘Cleveland-esque genre-bending’ or ‘Clintonian eroticism’.”
New this week: The Best of McSweeney’s; a new e-book edition of Highway Trade by John Domini; and new paperback editions of Between Heaven and Here by Susan Straight and Samuel Johnson is Indignant by Lydia Davis. (You could also read Susan Straight’s Millions essay on Toni Morrison’s Sula.)
We get it, you’re into finance — but what can you tell me about lit crit? This piece from The Atlantic purports to show how literary theory has its place in the world of finance: “The act of imagining the future in finance goes by other names—’vision’ and ‘invention’ are among the more respectable euphemisms—in order to disguise the presence of the non-rational in financial activity. But rarely do scholars explore the role of imagination in economic life systematically. In a realm dominated by economic and financial scholarship that aspires to be ‘scientific,’ fantasy and creativity in envisioning the future are often ignored; they don’t fit well into a model of research whose aim is to reduce unknowns and to eliminate surprises as much as possible.”
It’s been rumored for some time that The Flaming Lips were working with Aaron Sorkin to develop a musical, but yesterday in a press release, the project was given an expected release date, and Sorkin was said to be no longer involved. “Yoshimi” will tell the story of “a young Japanese artist who journeys into a robot world where she must contend with a host of evil forces.” (Or, you know, basically this song acted out.)
In which Jami Attenberg (whose forthcoming The Middlesteins made it to our big 2012 second half books preview) discusses the outright mockery of Jeffrey Eugenides’s pseudo-famous vest in the web advertising campaign (which–full disclosure–also ran on The Millions) for Jennifer Weiner’s The Next Best Thing: “Hit Me with Your Vest Shot.”
New this week: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, Carnival by Rawi Hage, In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods by Matt Bell, Children of the Jacaranda Tree by Sahar Delijani, the collected letters of Italo Calvino, and the seventh issue of McSweeney’s food mag Lucky Peach.
“It was just one small sign in a bustling city. But it was a sign, nevertheless, that Florence has not forgotten the Brownings after all.” In the New York Times, novelist Ann Mah explored Florence looking for signs of the literary couple who called it home for many years: Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. From our archives: a more sober look at the famed city.
Michele Filgate was so terrified by Dave Eggers’s The Circle that she quit social media for a week and wrote about the experience for Salon. “I don’t want to become like Mae, sacrificing real-life friendships for the allure of the screen. I want to be aware of the world around me. I want to write about that world. I want to feel more alive, even if that means being lonelier in the process.” Pair with: our review of the novel.