It’s a big week for new books. Amitav Ghosh’s River of Smoke is now out, as is Lost Memory of Skin by Russell Banks, Chango’s Beads and Two-Tone Shoes by William Kennedy, Luminous Airplanes by Paul La Farge, and The Funny Man by John Warner, who recently appeared in these pages. Philip Roth’s American Trilogy is getting the Library of America treatment. (Capsule previews of all of the preceding titles are available here, incidentally). New in non-fiction is Stephen Greenblatt’s The Swerve: How the World Became Modern and Susan Orlean’s Rin Tin Tin. And out in paperback: none other than Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom.
If novels are written to remind us of our mistakes and we keep repeating those mistakes, why read novels at all?, asks Alberto Manguel. Richard Lea discusses authors’ views on the relationship between the novel and memory at The International Forum on the Novel.
Short on insult fodder? In that case you’ll want to read Colin Burrow’s review of Melissa Mohr’s Holy Shit: A Brief History of Swearing. It includes such notables as: “slapsauce fellows, slabberdegullion druggels, lubbardly lowts … slutch calf-lollies, grouthead gnat-snappers, lob-dotterels, gaping changelings, [and] codshead loobies.” In the end, “swearing is one of the most basic human acts,” he writes.
“So scary are the consequences of a collapse of white privilege that many Americans have flocked to a political platform that supports and translates violence against the defenseless as strength. These people are not so much angry as terrified, with the kind of terror that makes knees tremble.” We highly recommend you read Toni Morrison‘s post-election essay for The New Yorker.