Jacob Silverman tackles the niceness epidemic besieging literary criticism at the moment. Where have the hatchet jobs gone? Is social media’s “communalism” robbing critics of their fangs? Each time a publication refuses to print a negative review, the act amounts to “a victory for a publicist, but not for readers,” he writes. (Just a few notes: Silverman’s piece is based on a blog post he wrote recently; Emma Straub has responded on her own blog; and, for what it’s worth, our own Michael Bourne’s recent review of Richard Ford’s Canada was pretty toothy.)
In another excellent essay from LARB's new site, Morten Høi Jensen takes a close look at the work of Martin Amis to discuss the theme of masculinity, the arc of his oeuvre, the seductiveness of his distinct tone and the dangers of falling for it. For more on Amis, check out our expose of Invasion of the Space Invaders, the near-forgotten first work by Amis in which the young author details the gritty world of arcade gaming.
"Because at the end of the day, there is no magic solution, no short-cut, to writing something that hopefully will last. No matter how we search for one." Jeff VanderMeer gives eight writing tips for aspiring writers in the Chicago Review of Books. See also: VanderMeer's prolific 2017 Year in Reading entry.
New this week: Craig Thompson's long-awated follow up to Blankets is here. Stay tuned for our review of Habibi later this week. Also new: Neal Stephenson's Reamde, Aravind Adiga's Last Man in Tower, Joe McGinniss's much leaked exposé The Rogue: Searching for the Real Sarah Palin, and a new, posthumous collection of Shel Silverstein's poetry and drawings, Every Thing On It.
Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is one of the world’s most translated books. In German alone, there are over 40 different translations. A new project published by Oak Knoll Press devotes three volumes to exploring the challenges of translating Carroll’s wit, puns, and linguistic tricks in 174 languages, from Afrikaans to Zulu.