In April’s Atlantic, Joseph O’Neill tries to separate Philip Roth from his perpetual themes of family, Newark, and Judaism, and from his many authorial personae. The task proves unmanageable, but the attempt sheds light on the man destined to become Roth’s greatest critic: Roth himself.
“Even with such apparently juicy material, blithe self-exposure quickly grows dull. Their mutual trust comfortably established, Marsha, Emily, and Vincent unleash endless confession, allowing one another to stand in for the analysts they aren’t seeing over the summer. Nobody has to coax anything out of anyone.” On the age of social media and the novel Talk by Linda Rosenkrantz.
Freudians know that Eros and Thanatos are opposites in the human psyche. The former, the love instinct, pushes us to survive, while the latter, the death instinct, pushes us to destruction. In an essay for Bookslut, Jelena Markovic explores the importance of Thanatos in daily life, using as an example a man she knew with an “instinct for nonexistence.”
Out this week: Devil on the Cross by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o; Void Star by Zachary Mason; Sunshine State by Sarah Gerard; Double Bind, edited by Robin Romm; Often I Am Happy by Jens Christian Grøndahl; and Cave Dwellers by Richard Grant. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
Coincident with the release of her new novel, Marie-Helene Bertino published an excerpt in the latest issue of Granta. It features, among other things, a character using the phrase “better-him-than-me kind of park.” You could also read Bertino’s interview with Jessica Gross, which followed the publication of her debut book of short stories.
Landays are traditional two-line folk poems, and they are particularly popular among Afghan women these days. Recently Poetry magazine dedicated an issue to the short verses, and Dowser has a behind-the-scenes look at how the issue was put together. Previously, New York Times Magazine caught up with some members of Mirman Baheerm, a women’s literary society based in Kabul.