This essay in the Times Literary Supplement on Kurt Vonnegut‘s “strangely central place in American fiction despite his occasional insistence on his own marginality” is certainly worth a read.
“Werner isn’t surprised to pass the entrance exams easily. He’s more nonplused to find his head measured with calipers and his hair whiter than any of the 60-odd shades of blond on the examiners’ charts. It goes without saying that his eyes are also rated for their shade of blue.” Janet Maslin reviews Anthony Doerr’s new novel.
A couple weeks ago, I wrote about the upcoming Lifetime adaptation of Flowers in the Attic, the novel that Slate writer Tammy Oler called “a rite of passage for teenage girls in the ‘80s.” Now, Willa Paskin reviews the new film, lamenting that it “acts as if it is just another life-affirming Lifetime movie about surviving terrible situations.”
According to Gilles Deleuze, “the lives of philosophers are rarely interesting.” This may have come as a surprise to Jacques Derrida, who once spent a couple days in jail after cops in the Prague airport tried to frame him for smuggling weed. (This incident gets ample coverage in a new biography of the scholar).
“Why, after all, do writers write? What is the impulse, the insistence on story, on seeing and representing the world? It has little to do with technology although everything to do with narrative, which is a purpose that, on the surface, technology also seems to share. The difference is that the writer creates narrative with intention, whereas technology merely gathers, or processes, information, leaving interpretation, analysis, up to us.” Let’s just say David L. Ulin doesn’t think Joyce would work for Google.
Leslie Jamison’s new essay collection is getting lots of plaudits, not least here at The Millions, where Ryan Teitman argued that Jamison manages to “meet her subjects in utter intimacy.” At the Tin House blog, Stephen Sparks interviews Jamison, who talks about the book, her “shame-seeking superpower” and her epigraph-cum-tattoo.