On the heels of her Rumpus post on the lack of diversity in the New York Times Book Review Roxane Gay has started taking names. Literally. She’s compiling a public database of working writers of color.
"One hears, in the news, that one new fad after another is sweeping the academy. World literature, digital humanities, book history, cognitive science. Perhaps everyone will just watch TV (there are twenty-seven panels on The Wire, and at least a paper, I recall, on Rizzoli and Isles, a TNT show)...The elephant in the room, or the one that has left the room a while ago (but whose stinking presence everyone still inhales deeply or holds their nose after), is Theory." N + 1 reviews MLA 2013.
Anwen Crawford reflects on newly published letters from Sylvia Plath; "The belief among many of Plath’s devotees seems to be that if we can get clear of other people’s fingerprints on her texts, allowing Plath to 'fully narrate her own autobiography,' as the editors here describe it, we will at last solve the riddle of her. The extremities of her poetry will balance against the circumstances of her life; the latter will equal the former. But her griefs were ordinary; it is what she did with them that wasn’t. Plath turned her common sorrows—dead father, mental illness, cheating husband—into something like an origin story for pain itself, as if her own pain preceded the world." In the New Yorker
Over at The Point, Spencer McAvoy writes about the language and vision of Joy Williams, a writer who “instead of drawing boundaries between us and whatever Other, posits language as an experience of self-limitedness.” Williams’s new collection of short stories, The Visiting Privilege, is one of the most anticipated books of 2015.
Out this week: Sweetland by Michael Crummey; Glow by Ned Beauman; Frog by the Nobel laureate Mo Yan; Watch Me Go by Mark Wisniewski; A Bad Character by Deepti Kapoor; Blood-Drenched Beard by Daniel Galera; Black River by S.M. Hulse; Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper; My Father’s Wives by the ESPN host Mike Greenberg; and Mobile Library by David Whitehouse. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great 2015 Book Preview.