Newt Gingrich’s recent rise in Republican primary polls has occurred in tandem with the release of his historical novel set in the Civil War. The result? Gingrich writes a notorious massacre out of his book, The Battle of the Crater.
“What you might call an invisible economy of house sitters exists across the country,” writes Aaron Gilbreath in the Paris Review. His account of the generosity and clean counter-spaces of friends is a humbling reminder of the flip side of creative work.
“I’ve turned paranoid lately. When I’m in an airport, I look at the people around me at the gate, trying to suss out who might make a good ally if things went bad. I carry two plastic tubs full of warm clothes, hiking boots, and first-aid supplies in the back of my Subaru at all times. I have as large a volume of canned and dry goods in my pantry and laundry room as the shelves will hold.” Rebecca Onion for Slate on the appeal and contagion of “prepper fiction.” Pair with our review of Claire Vaye Watkins‘s Gold Fame Citrus, one of the recent bumper crop of apocalyptic narratives.
In Karen Russell‘s Swamplandia!, there is an enchanting place known as the abandoned Library Boat. “It held a cargo of books,” Ava Bigtree explains, “In the thirties and forties, Harrel M. Crow, a fisherman and bibliophile, had piloted the schooner around our part of the swamp delivering books to the scattered islanders. Then Harrel M. Crow died and I guess that was it for the door-to-door service. But his Library Boat, miraculously, had survived on the rocky island, unscavenged, undestroyed by hurricanes. It was an open secret, utilized by all our neighbors.” Now something similar has moored in England’s canals. And, across the Atlantic, one New Yorker is keeping his own open secret.
“[Ludmilla] Petrushevskaya doesn’t write about isolated acts of depravity; she writes about universal ones,” says Michael Robbins in his review of There Once Lived a Girl. “What’s scary about her narratives is their implication that only the thinnest film, which might rip at any time, separates us from the chaos and breakdown they describe.” Our own Janet Potter also reviewed Petrushevskaya’s work this week, and she focused on the romantic hopes of its characters. “What’s remarkable,” Potter writes, “is not the love they find, but the fact that they’re looking for it.”