In the LA Times, Jim Ruland reviews Middle C, the new book by Year in Reading alumnus William H. Gass. For another take on the novel, go read “best-read man in America” Michael Dirda in the Washington Post, or else check out Greg Gerke on the author’s Life Sentences.
Don’t blame Amazon or Goodreads for authors writing rave reviews of their own work. Writers have been self-promoting since the 1700s, when it was called “puffery.” As Nicholas Mason writes for Symposium Magazine, “Nearly every British writer of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries either participated in or benefitted from ginned-up book reviews.” The list of puffed up authors includes Mary Wollstonecraft, Walter Scott, and Mary Shelley.
Haven’t read Agatha Christie? The Oyster Review will get you up to speed. Their latest Reader’s Guide, written by Lili Loofbourow, delves into the writer behind Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot and countless other iconic characters. You could also read Daniel Friedman on the ending to every mystery novel.
It’s hard to get a better glimpse of the postwar white male American writer than the essays of William Styron. In My Generation, a new book of collected nonfiction, Styron writes about a raft of his contemporaries, including but not limited to Philip Roth, James Baldwin and Truman Capote. In the NYT, Charles Johnson reviews the collection. You could also read Alexander Nazaryan on a book by Styron’s daughter.