Elissa Schappell’s quick-witted book criticism now has an online presence with the debut of her Vanity Fair column, Just My Type. First up: a look at new fantasy fiction and a consideration of genre-bending novels, with a winning recommendation of Ann Beattie’s >Mrs. Nixon.
Joshua Cohen, author of the just-published meganovel Witz, dispenses provocations in The New York Observer: “The targets might be Michael Chabon, Jonathan Safran Foer, Shalom Auslander… When I started this book, I wanted to sleep with their wives. By the time I finished, I wanted to sleep with their mothers.”
“In Proust’s case, I think he helps us to see the world as it really is, not only its extraordinary beauty and diversity, but his observations make us aware of how we perceive and how we interact with others, showing us how often we are mistaken in our own assumptions and how easy it is to have a biased view of another person.” William C. Carter makes an argument as to why we should still read Proust. Our own Hannah Gersen has started a Proust Book Club.
“Through such experiments, [he] seems preoccupied by the need to make this familiar form something different from what we think it is, so that it can more capably capture a reality that has fast been veering into the unreal. It’s not just that the world outside the novel has made this jump, but also that we cannot evade the world’s strangeness when the storytellers, and the characters into which they breathe life, increasingly come from such different perspectives.” On Year in Reading alum Chang-rae Lee’s new novel (which you can buy with a nifty 3D book cover).
“If we are now relentlessly connected, every marginal identity gaining collective recognition, becoming assimilated, ever more rapidly? If that is where we stand, then something like a stubbornly solitary voice may be welcome, even necessary, telling us that what it means to be human—and what may keep us human—is to feel alone in a strange room, with our seclusion the thing that defines and can save us.” On bearing witness to the spectacle of aloneness and the fiction of empathy.