Geoff Dyer, lately everybody’s favorite literary critic, reviews The Stranger’s Child, and tells us why Alan Hollinghurst, “the gay novelist, might also be the best straight novelist that Britain has to offer.” Hear, hear!
The 1.5 million people who live in the Bronx lack a general interest bookstore, classifying their borough as one of a growing number of “book deserts” across the country. To combat this trend, the National Book Foundation just launched “The Book Rich Environment Initiative.” Meanwhile, Juma’a Ali runs a popular bookshop in a UN-administered refugee camp near the South Sudanese city of Malakal.
The big debut this week is Imperial Bedrooms by Bret Easton Ellis. Also of interest is a new collection of essays by Sloane Crosley, How Did You Get This Number. The much delayed U.S. edition of a controversial 2009 Booker longlister, Ed O’Loughlin’s Not Untrue and Not Unkind, is now out. As is this intriguing curiosity: Peacock and the Buffalo: The Poetry of Nietzsche, which purports to be the “first complete English translation of Nietzsche’s poetry.”
“They found, unsurprisingly, that blocked writers were unhappy. Symptoms of depression and anxiety, including increased self-criticism and reduced excitement and pride at work, were elevated in the blocked group; symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder, such as repetition, self-doubt, procrastination, and perfectionism, also appeared, as did feelings of helplessness and ‘aversion to solitude’—a major problem, since writing usually requires time alone.” On the causes of writer’s block.
The new David Mitchell novel, The Bone Clocks, ends in rural Ireland, which explains why Kathryn Schulz chose to interview Mitchell on a walk through the Irish countryside. At Vulture, she talks with Mitchell about supercontinents, writing in childhood and the global scope of his work. You could also read the story Mitchell recently wrote on Twitter.
This week, Richard Ford published his first novel in a while to feature Frank Bascombe, the protagonist of his Pulitzer-winning book The Sportswriter. At Salon, our own Lydia Kiesling posits a through-line from Bascombe to a certain TV gangster, arguing that The Sopranos shares its view of manhood with Ford’s novels. You could also read our own Michael Bourne on Ford’s 2012 book, Canada.
Beauty is in the eye of the writer. Adelle Waldman discusses why many novelists fail to address female beauty in a meaningful and nuanced way. “Women are not only subject to a constant and exhausting and sometimes humiliating scrutiny—they are also belittled for caring about their beauty, mocked for seeking to enhance or to hold onto their good looks, while men are just, well, being men.”