There are plenty of new books to this week to fill that post-election void: Both Flesh and Not: Essays, a posthumously published collection from David Foster Wallace; Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behavior; Prosperous Friends by Christine Schutt; Magnificence by Lydia Millet; and These Things Happen, a debut by longtime TV writer Richard Kramer. From the indies, we have The Care and Feeding of Exotic Pets by Diana Wagman and Keyhole Factory by William Gillespie. Also out are Philip Pullman’s new version of Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm; Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks; and a big new Michael Jackson biography by a former Rolling Stone editor.
John Darnielle, who you may know through his work with The Mountain Goats, released a new novel last week, titled Wolf in White Van. Over at The Hairpin, our onetime #LitBeat editor Emily M. Keeler reviews the book, which she calls “a novel that unspools rather than reads.” Pair with: Jesse Jarnow on the 33 ⅓ book series, which includes a volume written by Darnielle.
"Recent research has shown that messy, dark, noisy, booze-filled environments like the one Fitzgerald cultivated at La Paix can, in fact, help stimulate creativity." The Atlantic reports on the importance of environment for creativite work and / or gives you an excuse to live like Fitzgerald.
Lydia Millet's most recent novel, Magnificence, is the third in a trilogy, and a reminder of what a significant body of work she's been building over the last decade. The Point offers the best overview of that work you're likely to find anywhere. Millet's "equal parts" Ben Marcus and Jonathan Franzen, writes Tom Dibblee, "but really she's her own thing."
“If we are now relentlessly connected, every marginal identity gaining collective recognition, becoming assimilated, ever more rapidly? If that is where we stand, then something like a stubbornly solitary voice may be welcome, even necessary, telling us that what it means to be human—and what may keep us human—is to feel alone in a strange room, with our seclusion the thing that defines and can save us.” On bearing witness to the spectacle of aloneness and the fiction of empathy.
The Virginia Quarterly Review launched their redesigned website this week, and it’s a sight to behold. To celebrate the occasion, the magazine has dropped its paywall through Valentine’s Day, so start exploring. I recommend starting with Kevin Young’s recent poem, “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out,” which he composed entirely out of song lyrics.