One of the biggest literary releases of the year is out today, The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides. Read the book’s opening here. Another literary heavy hitter out today is The Stranger’s Child by Alan Hollinghurst. One of Albanian writer Ismail Kadare’s masterpieces, The Palace of Dreams, is now back in print in English, and Blake Butler’s memoir Nothing: A Portrait of Insomnia is now on shelves.
In his new book, one of three coming out now or soon, Australian poet Clive James assembles his decades of knowledge into a series of mini-essays, many of which originally appeared in Poetry magazine. At Slate, Katy Waldman reads the collection, explaining why it gave her the urge to quote James ad infinitum. You could also read our own Garth Risk Hallberg on the poet’s book Cultural Amnesia.
“It’s corrosive going down, you wonder if he had to add quite so much vinegar and horseradish, but afterward the effect is invigorating.” Aaron Thier at The Nation reviews Rafael Chirbes’ newest novel, On The Edge. The book admittedly gives no pleasure, yet is nonetheless worth reading as it operates like more of a “psychological health tonic,” instead.
“This is a huge generalization, but [American novels] have tended not to have all the elements that make it good for television, whether it’s too interior or there’s not enough action. The Brits tended to write more colorful stories rather than the darkness and struggle. Dickens and Trollope certainly knew how to write sequels, books that would make good ongoing series again and again. And the greatest love stories are in the Wuthering Heights and Pride and Prejudice. I don’t know what our equivalent is.” In a piece for The Atlantic Spencer Kornhaber wonders, “Is American Literature Too Dark for TV?“
“My students are not as puzzled by Gertrude Stein as I expect them to be. Stein writes: ‘Glazed Glitter. Nickel, what is nickel,’ and my students recognize the moment of wondering. This habit of wonder is familiar in part because we have been raised on the lists of Goodnight Moon.” On Gertrude Stein, Goodnight Moon, and the wonderment of language from Slate.
Print out your playing cards and start sifting through the comment sections of negative book reviews. It’s a new game called “bad review bingo.” (inspired in part by the frothy commenters to our own Janet Potter’s blistering review of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy.)