Do you love poetry, but often wish you were monitored on more government watchlists? Well, now you can scratch both of those itches by purchasing Poetry of the Taliban, a new anthology endorsed by and published on the group’s website. Unsurprisingly, the book has garnered its share of criticism, but as Melville House’s Kelly Burdick notes, it also has a coalition of allies and proponents.
Perhaps best known for her fiction, specifically her classic The Group, Mary McCarthy became a novelist almost by chance. “McCarthy was good at recycling – a term which she used herself – and good, also, as she admitted, at plagiarizing her own life. Nevertheless, her fiction lives, and some of it has been highly influential.” Margaret Drabble takes us through McCarthy’s major works of fiction, featured in Mary McCarthy: The Complete Fiction which was released this year in a deluxe collection for the very first time.
Year in Reading Alum Alexander Chee reviews Rick Moody’s latest release, Hotels of North America. “The present is too cruel for him, and yet he cannot change it, so there is this instead, sentence by sentence, a nod to the past that is really a nod to his own past. A conflation of his nostalgia for the days of his sexual attractiveness and the unencumbered power of white men, all of it dressed up as a love for old words.” To hear more from Moody, check out our recent interview with him.
Recently, a Czech linguist named Jakob Murian came up with an estimate of the number of languages your average European speaks. The study is complicated, however, by the question of how much you need to know to really understand a given language. At the LRB’s blog, Glen Newey asks: are you fluent when you can order a beer, or when you can translate Virgil? Pair with: Abigail Rasminsky on learning to speak German.
Novels that focus on obsessive characters hinge on persnickety details. The need to depict accurately the mind of an obsessive demands that the novelist overemphasize the trifling and tangential. In The Kenyon Review, Vanessa Blakeslee reviews a new and representative example of the form, The Understory by Pamela Erens. Sample quote: “When the smaller steps of daily life are magnified, does that narrative reach its greatest potential for a unified and powerful resonance?” FYI, Erens has written for us.