I can’t recommend John Jeremiah Sullivan‘s 7,000-word article on The Pale King highly enough – not because he gets everything right, but because it’s what long-form writing about books should look like: passionate, lucid, wide-ranging, and awfully fun to read. I salute GQ for running it, and hope to see more literary coverage there in the future.
“It’s like a crackpot combination of Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge!, Ingmar Bergman’s The Magic Flute and Lars von Trier’s Dogville. Does this crazy idea work? Maybe 70 percent of the time, but when it does it’s both daring and brilliant.” At Salon, Andrew O’Hehir is surprised by Anna Karenina.
Writing for Banned Books Month on the PEN American Center’s blog, our own Lydia Kiesling discusses Judy Blume’s Forever. It’s a book many have “lobbied vigorously to pry … out of the hands of enthralled youth since 1975,” Kiesling writes, which should prove that such lobbyists “weren’t very good readers” in the first place.
“It is difficult for them to understand why a successful black woman would choose to return to the South and, worse yet, to Mississippi, which looms large in the public’s imagination for its racist depredations, and rightfully so.” For Time magazine’s American South issue Jesmyn Ward writes about her decision to return home to Mississippi.
Colm Tóibín’s new book on Elizabeth Bishop is unusually hard to categorize. Part “primer,” part “personal reflection,” in Jonathan Farmer’s words, it moves back and forth between analysis and lyricism, alternating passages of beauty with nuts-and-bolts guides to Bishop’s poems. In Slate, Farmer tries to nail it down. You could also read our own Michael Bourne’s review of Tóibín’s The Master.