Over at Threepenny Review, Jess Row expounds on “blandness” in the work of Haruki Murakami, and particularly in his 2.8 lb. tome 1Q84—a book tabbed by Charles Baxter in last year’s Year in Reading as the best he’d read all year. Row contemplates the way Murakami’s characters and sentences “almost never lose this placid, observant neutrality,” or “continuous monotone.”
Out this week: Young Skins by Colin Barrett; Decoy by Allan Gurganus; The Unloved by Deborah Levy; Aquarium by David Vann; The Sellout by Paul Beatty; Crow Fair by Thomas McGuane; and Kazuo Ishiguro’s first new novel in ten years (which our own Lydia Kiesling reviewed yesterday). For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great 2015 Book Preview.
“There are many ways to define ‘success’ as a writer,” and Jeffrey Condran writes about his own path to and definition of writerly success for The Missouri Review‘s blog. Hint: it has something to do with craft, something to do with editing, and a lot to do with a certain magazine.
How has a spirit legally defined as being “without distinctive character, aroma, taste, or color” flourished in today’s economic climate? Victorino Matus‘ Weekly Standard article explores the history and ubiquity of vodka. Perhaps this article is best paired with something from NPR‘s list of “Great American Writers and Their Cocktails.”
“The more you take, the more you have to give back — the better the work has to be.” The New York Times features Year in Reading alum Rivka Galchen in dialogue with Anna Holmes (“You can’t always prove appropriation, but you usually know it when you see it”) on the distinction between artistic license and cultural theft. Pair with our review of Galchen’s Little Labors.
Slate books and culture columnist Laura Miller looks at what this year’s bestseller list tells us about 2017. One of her conclusions, “2017 was the year that the very concept of a best-seller became even more dubious.” After reading her analysis, check out our Year in Reading lists, whose authors found joy in reading and viewed it as one of the few good things of this year, even if the bestsellers of the year didn’t reflect those feelings.