The semiotics-department backdrop to Jeffrey Eugenides’s new novel, The Marriage Plot, seems to have sparked a new mode of confessional writing. But Theorists are so seductive because they are, themselves, essentially literary.
“There’s much to be commended in the work done by FiveThirtyEight, or even Vox,” writes Millions contributor Brian Ted Jones. “But making problems seem smaller then they are is a harm that outweighs all the good.” He goes on to tie together the rise of “explainer” sites, the problem with “hashtag activism,” and also references to Louis C.K., Teju Cole, and Leslie Jamison.
Slate books and culture columnist Laura Miller looks at what this year’s bestseller list tells us about 2017. One of her conclusions, “2017 was the year that the very concept of a best-seller became even more dubious.” After reading her analysis, check out our Year in Reading lists, whose authors found joy in reading and viewed it as one of the few good things of this year, even if the bestsellers of the year didn’t reflect those feelings.
Out this week: So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson; The World Before Us by Aislinn Hunter; Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not to Have Kids, edited by Meghan Daum; At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen; The Architect’s Apprentice by Elif Shafak; and The Harder They Come by T.C. Boyle. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great 2015 Book Preview.
“The wish to be a writer, and the will to be one, solve nothing about how you will live, and don’t even solve anything about how you will write. You have given yourself the vaguest designation.” Kristy Eldredge writes for The Rumpus about drawing inspiration from the unconventional career choices of Year in Reading alum Geoff Dyer, including the New York Times column he almost never wrote. Pair her essay with our own Janet Potter‘s review of Dyer’s latest full-length work, Another Great Day at Sea.