"Baker is such a wonderful prose stylist that he could probably get away with publishing his diary—which, for epic stretches, is what Substitute feels like." Over at The Nation, Evan Kindley reviews Nicholson Baker's latest, a 700-plus-page non-fiction exploration of substitute teaching. Spoiler: it's not as sexy as Baker's other work. If it's the sex you want, see our primer on Baker's novels; also immensely entertaining, our interview with the author from 2013.
We have returned from Los Angeles, where it was so sunny and warm, to Chicago, where it is so cloudy and cold. It actually rained briefly one of the days we were in LA, and we thought it was hilarious that everyone kept apologizing for it. If people apologized for bad weather in Chicago, nobody would have time to talk about anything else. Anyway, I've spent the day catching up on e-mails, RSS feeds, blogs and the like, and I thought I'd share the links that caught my eye.Mad Max Perkins, editor and secret-identity blogger, returned from a long hiatus to reveal the title of the novel that he had gotten so excited about editing back when he was a regular blogger. The novel is Dope by Sara Gran, and I have to admit, I'm very intrigued. In the process, Perkins revealed himself to be none other than Dan Conaway of Penguin Putnam, as Sarah at GalleyCat explains.At BookLust, a gorgeous sculpture constructed out of books.Hikikomori, Japan's epidemic of shut ins. In the New York Times.An oddly terrifying look at all the psychological engineering that goes on in reality shows: The Omarosa Experiment at The Morning News.Hilarious and informative: Outrageous firsts in television history.Jonathan Yardley's review of Michael D'Antonio's Hershey gives an interesting snapshot of the chocolate magnate's life.
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If you enjoyed the profile of Anne Carson in the latest New York Times Magazine – fictitious “ice bats” notwithstanding – you’re going to really love Parul Sehgal and Nathan Huffstutter’s two takes on Red Doc>. The work, Sehgal writes, is “suspended between what it is and what we want it to be.” And also, writes Huffstutter, it’s a work that “courses with a wit shot through with intelligence and humility.”
In the past few years, we’ve seen a swell of books that focus on female friendship. The newfound popularity of writers like Elena Ferrante has given us a new wealth of books that explore this kind of relationship. At Salon, Dear Thief author Samantha Harvey examines why this is, as part of a larger discussion about her own novel and the literary landscape. You could also read our review of Harvey’s earlier novel The Wilderness.