Patrick deWitt, author of The Sisters Brothers (which our own Mark O’Connell reviewed last October), expected Harry Mathews’ novel The Journalist to be a “terrible flop,” but soon found it was “every bit as great as Mathews’ more celebrated novels.”
“It’s corrosive going down, you wonder if he had to add quite so much vinegar and horseradish, but afterward the effect is invigorating.” Aaron Thier at The Nation reviews Rafael Chirbes’ newest novel, On The Edge. The book admittedly gives no pleasure, yet is nonetheless worth reading as it operates like more of a “psychological health tonic,” instead.
What’s going on in Hong Kong? Last week, a man by the name of Lee Bo became the fifth member of the Hong Kong-based publishing house Mighty Current, which specializes in provocative tomes about Beijing leaders, to vanish mysteriously. A few of those missing have been in sporadic communication with worried family members, letting them know in opaque terms that they are “helping with an investigation.”
The By the Book series at the Times has produced some pretty great entries, but we have a feeling that Colson Whitehead may go down as its best interviewee. Why do we say this? Well, it might have something to do with his weeping fit in a Chelsea Dallas BBQ, prompted by an early scene in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.
“If they are honest with themselves, authors of color know what stories they’re supposed to tell, and know that attempts to move beyond those stories are not so often accepted.” Matthew Salesses on the danger of cultural homogeneity in the world of books, over at Literary Hub. Pair with Salesses’s Millions essay on novel writing, inciting incidents, and beginnings.
David Lipsky writes for Harper’s about Letters to Véra, which collects Vladimir Nabokov’s letters to his wife of fifty-two years. As he puts it, “Companion, agent, live-in editor, bodyguard, and the dedicatee of almost all her husband’s books, Véra Nabokov, née Slonim, has reached a strange elevation in our cultural sky.”
They’ve called him a sports icon, a “national nightmare,” an author, and a punchline. They’ve questioned the backlash against him, and tracked his particular brand of “muscular Christianity.” Coincidental religious symbolism has been noted. Yet so far nothing has come close to genius of Jimmy Fallon’s rendition of Tim Tebow as… TeBowie.