In an interview for The Atlantic, Greil Marcus talks about his new book The Doors: A Lifetime of Listening to Five Mean Years. Later on, however, he tosses off his gloves to dismiss the bits about Pauline Kael in James Wolcott’s memoir Lucking Out. “I’m not really interested in what Jim has to say about Pauline,” Marcus says. “He became an acolyte of Pauline’s in a way that was embarrassing to read, when he was mimicking her and celebrating her in The Village Voice.“
Recommended Reading: “The Misanthropic Genius of Joy Williams” in The New York Times Magazine. Her latest collection of short stories, The Visiting Privilege: New and Collected Stories, which was included on our most anticipated list, will be released on September 8th. “When I asked Williams what she wants out of a great story, she replied, ‘I want to be devastated in some way.’”
“If only the interest he provokes were limited to his immediate surroundings, but, alas, it is not!… Still farther away, great mountains of data mining sum up, in zeroes and ones, the ultimate truth of his being.” KA Semënova updates Nabokov‘s short story “Signs and Sumbols” (and works by other famous Russian authors) for McSweeney’s, “teh internets” and the digital world.
Year in Reading alumna Ottessa Moshfegh has a new story in this week’s issue of the New Yorker, titled “The Beach Boy.” Moshfegh also spoke with Deborah Treisman about her writing: “Isn’t it hilarious when people are blind to their own arrogance? For some, no amount of American liberal-arts education, charitable contributions, or hours spent listening to NPR will ever wake them up to their own privileged, bigoted, and classist attitudes. […] One might say that New Yorkers like the folks in ‘The Beach Boy’ are especially susceptible to the kind of stupidity I love to write about—the stupidity of entitlement.”
“He was a glutton for books who treated each text as a plate he was required to clean.” Author and critic William Gass died this week at 93, reports The Washington Post. The recipient of three National Book Critics Circle awards for criticism and four Pushcart prizes, Gass was awarded the PEN/Nabakov Award for lifetime achievement in 2000. See our reviews of Middle C, a novel that took Gass almost 20 years to finish, and his most recent essay collection Life Sentences, which amply demonstrated his background as “a former philosophy professor, but more appropriately a philosopher of the word and an esthete.” We were also lucky enough to have him pen a Year in Reading entry for us back in 2009: “I miss the leisure that let me read just for fun, not to critique, or pronounce, or even to put on a list, but simply to savor,” Gass lamented. Nonetheless, he continued,“I do, from time to time, pick up old friends who never disappoint but will promise me a page or two of pleasure between art and ordinary life.”
Over at Buzzfeed, Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah travels to James Baldwin’s home in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France, and explores his life as an expat. She writes, “Baldwin left the States for the primary reason that all emigrants do — because anywhere seems better than home.” Pair with Justin Campbell Millions essay on Baldwin and fatherhood.