New this week: The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud, A Guide to Being Born by Ramona Ausubel, NOS4A2 by Joe Hill, and three newly translated books from by Icelandic author Sjón: The Blue Fox, The Whispering Muse, and From the Mouth of the Whale. New in paperback is The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers.
At N+1, Marco Roth autopsies "the neuronovel" - think Motherless Brooklyn (Tourette's), The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (autism), Lowboy (paranoid schizophrenia), The Echo Maker (Capgras syndrome), and Atmospheric Disturbances (Capgras again?) - and finds "sign[s] of the novel's diminishing purview."
The true confessions of Lev Grossman, book reviewer: "There was a time when I actually believed, because I was an ass, that as a critic I was an avenging angel with a flaming sword, and that part of my job was to help rid the culture of books that were sucking up more of the literary oxygen than they deserved."
Beer bongs are never a good idea. Besides the killer hangover you'll inevitably wake up with the next morning, you might also steal literary art. When Mitchel Potter was a frat boy in 1987, he stole a bronze bust of Robert Frost from Wichita State University and hid it in his basement for 25 years until someone tipped off the police. Ironically, Potter didn't even know who Frost was, but the prosecutor read "The Road Not Taken" at his trial.
"Good political poems, outlive the events that shape them... they lead strange lives." One such poem, written after a pogrom 100 years ago, has since been translated by Palestinian resistance leaders, and more recently claimed as "Israeli" by PM Netanyahu. Some of the most notable works of the genre have been collected by Poetry. New projects in political poetry I'm excited about: online journal Matter Monthly, and Rattle's Sunday column for a political poem addressing events of that week.