The Most Overrated Books of 2011 according to NY Daily News, and Steve Jobs is included?
Our own Bill Morris (the man Michiko Kakutani once compared favorably to John Updike) is hitting the road in support of his novel Motor City Burning, and you can catch him now as he swings through the South before heading to the Midwest. Elsewhere, see what Detroit’s hometown paper learned from Bill about a novel that mines the city’s fractious history.
Helen Vendler is one of those rare scholar-writers who doesn’t adhere to a particular school of theory. In her new book of essays, she explains her view of criticism as distinct from both philosophy and scholarship, as a form of learning that’s inherently “unsystematic and idiosyncratic.” In Open Letters Monthly, Jack Hanson reads through the book. You could also read Jonathan Farmer on Rita Dove’s letter to Vendler.
Last week, we discussed how Teju Cole has mastered literary Twitter, and that was before we knew that he tweeted a 4,000-word essay on immigration. “A Piece of the Wall” is composed of 250 tweets written during a seven-hour period and starts with: “I hear the sound of faint bells in the distance. It is like a sound in a dream, or the jingling at the beginning of a Christmas song.”
Michael Lewis’s last book made our Hall of Fame. Now he’s back with a new book that widens his focus to the financial dramas around the world with Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World. Also out this week, Jose Saramago’s posthumously published Cain, Helen DeWitt’s long-awaited Lightning Rods, Michael Ondaatje’s The Cat’s Table (reviewed here), Anne Enright’s The Forgotten Waltz, Alice Hoffman’s The Dovekeepers, Jim Harrison’s The Great Leader, and Booker shortlisted The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes. Also out: From the master of “molecular gastronomy,” The Family Meal: Home Cooking with Ferran Adria and, as noted in our recent piece “What Ever Happened to the New Atheism?” The Magic of Reality by Richard Dawkins.