We recently offered a look at the odd history of the book blurb here at The Millions. Now the New York Times is looking at this peculiar custom, inviting four contributors to discuss their merits and pitfalls. Among them is our own Bill Morris, who revisits his 2011 essay “To Blurb Or Not To Blurb” about the dilemma he faced when asked to blurb a friend’s book.
A half-century ago, Thomas Berger published Little Big Man, a satire of Westerns that helped increase the stature of the Western genre as a whole. To mark the book’s 50th anniversary, Allen Barra reflects on its legacy, suggesting that it’s as good a candidate as any for the title of Great American Novel. Related: Daniel Kalder on the odd phenomenon of the Euro-Western.
Remember back in 2011 when Steven Soderbergh made that list (PDF) of every movie, TV show, book, play and short story he had watched that year? Well according to his recent interview with New York Magazine, the book he most recently finished is Paul Murray’s Skippy Dies. (And what a coincidence! The book Murray most recently blurbed is Epic Fail, our first Millions Original.)
Apocalyptic literature is nothing new, but it may, according to Grayson Clary, be entering a new era. In Bookforum, he argues that Benjamin Percy’s The Dead Lands ushers the genre into its mannerist phase. Sample quote: “The Dead Lands is really the stripped, buffed skeleton of a road story, set up to show off—attractively—an enormous quantity of decorating tropes.” You could also read our interview with Percy.
On Friday, I wrote about the British writer William Boyd, whose new play, Longing, debuted last week at London’s Hampstead Theatre. The play is based on two of Chekhov’s short stories, one of which (according to Boyd’s new article in The Guardian) sheds light on the great author’s love life. Apparently the young Anton had “at least two dozen” affairs.