Recommended weekend reading: Walker Percy’s “Bourbon, Neat.”
“After receiving a hundred of his letters, meeting him fifteen times, either at his apartment on Bilu Street or at a Tel Aviv café, and receiving too many calls from his cell phone to ever hope to return, I gave up trying to count the number of times that Yoram Kaniuk had died.” Nicole Krauss remembers her relationship with Israeli writer Yoram Kaniuk, author of The Last Jew, in her obituary for The New Yorker.
"Soldiers eat beef teriyaki and chicken cavatelli M.R.E.s in a war zone where 'armored ruins' line the roads, 'charred corpses scattered in among the blasted metal'; and sniper fire and I.E.D. ambushes are a constant threat: 'the chaos out there, the crazy Arabic writing and abu-jabba jabber, the lawless traffic, the hidden danger and buzz and stray bullets and death looming from every overpass.'" Michiko Kakutani reviews Roy Scranton's War Porn for The New York Times. Here's an old review from The Millions that shares a bit of Scranton's lingering sentiment regarding the war.
"The literary type of burlesque also peels off layers ... They are bolder and more coarsely humorous pieces that go beyond silly copies, like turbo-charged parodies. Jane Austen’s burlesques were full-on irreverent, turning a thing on its head, forcing us to peek underneath to see its naked absurdities." On the proto-feminist snark of a young Jane Austen.
"Good TV is not merely good TV (i.e. better-than-average TV), but TV that is so good it deserves to be taken as seriously as great films and even great Literature (yes, with a capital 'L'). As such, watching Good TV and discussing Good TV are qualitatively different than watching and talking about other kinds of TV. The emergence of Good TV is a rather big deal in the recent history of American culture. It may well be one of the top two or three cultural developments of this still-young century." Todd Hasak-Lowy dissects the TV revolution. (Pair with: our own Michael Bourne on the new age of cable and Broadway.) (h/t The Rumpus)
New this week is The Tiger's Wife, the hotly anticipated debut of Téa Obreht, the youngest of the New Yorker's 20 Under 40 from last year. Also new in the fiction aisle is Carol Edgarian's Three Stages of Amazement. David Brooks's latest pop sociology effort The Social Animal is now out -- this one, excerpted in the New Yorker -- sets itself apart from similar tomes by illustrating its findings through a pair of fictional characters. Now out in paperback are National Book Award winner Lord of Misrule by Jaimy Gordon, Ian McEwan's Solar, and Rebecca Skloot's non-fiction blockbuster The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.