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.)
“It’s like a crackpot combination of Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge!, Ingmar Bergman’s The Magic Flute and Lars von Trier’s Dogville. Does this crazy idea work? Maybe 70 percent of the time, but when it does it’s both daring and brilliant.” At Salon, Andrew O’Hehir is surprised by Anna Karenina.
"Maybe in the future I’ll feel compelled to write that kind of specific and current book, but right now I feel that my strength as a fiction writer is my ability to take a step back. I prefer to create a more metaphorical story that people can apply to a variety of situations, personal and political." Electric Literature interviews Kazuo Ishiguro about his most recent novel, The Buried Giant, which our own Lydia Kiesling reviewed here.
Out this week: Marlena by Julie Buntin; American War by Omar El Akkad; What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah; Kingdom of the Young by Edie Meidav; No One Is Coming to Save Us by Stephanie Powell Watts; and Living in the Weather of the World by Richard Bausch. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
For those in New York City this week, Goodreads is hosting a literary pub crawl around lower Manhattan this Thursday night starting at 7 p.m. Millions contributor Emily St. John Mandel will be joined by fellow authors Colson Whitehead and Amy King for a reading at Housing Works. After that, the group will decamp for Botanica and Tom & Jerry's before finishing the evening at KGB Bar. The event is free (though the booze will cost you).
England, as you know if you’ve ever read A Christmas Carol, has a long tradition of telling ghost stories around Christmas. What else could you read besides the Dickens classic to partake? At The Paris Review Daily, Colin Fleming lists a number of candidates, including Smee by A.M. Burrage and The Kit-Bag by Algernon Blackwood. You could also check out our reading list for December.