The Journals and Diaries of E.M. Forster is now on sale, and among other things, it reveals that its author, who appeared to feel queasy about sex in general, didn’t know exactly how “male and female joined” until he was thirty years old.
What is it like to work for a major book publisher? In an excerpt from the new reprint of her My Misspent Youth, Meghan Daum discusses the myth of the glamorous editorial job, one in which no time is wasted reading self-help books and unauthorized biographies of cable stars. As she explains it, “We’re secretaries fully versed in Derrida, receptionists who have read Proust in French.” Also check out our own Hannah Gersen’s review of Daum’s latest essay collection The Unspeakable.
At the LARB, Millions contributor Nathan Deuel reviews Silence Once Begun by Jesse Ball, which we covered as part of our Great 2014 Book Preview. Nathan calls the novel “daring and odd” and notes that, as the plot advances, “even we readers become slightly shaky witnesses.” You can learn more about Jesse Ball’s work in our own Janet Potter’s review of his novel The Curfew.
“The Goldfinch is a grand nineteenth-century novel in that it is an 800-page chronicle of capitalism, a paean to the ways in which the world turns on the questions of who can or can’t pay for what, and how these abilities and inabilities mold us over time. Like the life events and relationships it depicts, it purports to be about love but is actually about money. This portrayal of twentieth century North American society is accurate, but also, just as in life, both exhausting and demoralizing.” On Donna Tartt’s latest novel. (You could also read Adam Dalva’s take on the book.)
“They are both popular and literary and seem to have no problem standing with a foot in each category.” For The Paris Review, our own Adam O’Fallon Price writes about the “unambiguous sophistication” of Curtis Sittenfeld‘s writing—which is often regulated to the world of “chick lit”—and her new short story collection, You Think It, I’ll Say It. (Read our interview with Sittenfeld.)
“This year wasn’t short on the best kind of book: the type that polarizes opinion.” The New Republic reviews the most divisive books of the year. Included is our own Garth Risk Hallberg’s City on Fire. Check out opening lines from the story and an interview with the author.
“To say that late Victorian poetry is bleak would be akin to remarking that Wilkie Collins had a decent knack for plotting a novel. These poems are freighted with Gothic overtones, and it is not uncommon for some supernatural phenomenon to intrude upon what had started out as a seemingly harmless quatrain. We often encounter Death himself—or the Devil—who is something of a literary celebrity for the decadent poets. But what marks the best of these poems is that the outré is in service to something that we can think of as more desperate, and, wouldn’t you know, human.” Over at The Boston Review, an online-only essay looking at the peculiarities of Victorian decadent poetry.