“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.
Out this week: Can’t and Won’t by Lydia Davis; What Would Lynne Tillman Do by Lynne Tillman; In Paradise by the late Peter Matthiessen; Family Life by Akhil Sharma; Talking to Ourselves by Andrés Neuman; I Pity the Poor Immigrant by Zachary Lazar; The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan; The Plover by Adam Doyle; The Word Exchange by Alena Graedon; and a new biography of John Updike by Adam Begley.
Helen Vendler is one of those rare scholar-writers who doesn’t adhere to a particular school of theory. In her new book of essays, she explains her view of criticism as distinct from both philosophy and scholarship, as a form of learning that’s inherently “unsystematic and idiosyncratic.” In Open Letters Monthly, Jack Hanson reads through the book. You could also read Jonathan Farmer on Rita Dove’s letter to Vendler.
“I didn’t know who William Kelley was when I found that book but, like millions of Americans, I knew a term he is credited with first committing to print. ‘If You’re Woke, You Dig It’ read the headline of a 1962 Op-Ed that Kelley published in the New York Times, in which he pointed out that much of what passed for “beatnik” slang (“dig,” “chick,” “cool”) originated with African-Americans.” Are you familiar with William Kelley? Let Kathryn Schulz be your guide on this historical literary adventure as she discovers an immensely influential writer whom most of us have never heard mentioned.