In The Nation, Mark Oppenheimer reviews Janet Malcolm’s Forty-one False Starts, which includes the New Yorker staff writer’s early works of criticism. The problem, he writes, with her and most Western critics? “She is a snob, but wishes she weren’t.” (ICYMI: we published a review a few weeks ago.)
Could James Baldwin be America’s greatest essayist? Ta-Nehisi Coates believes so — at The Atlantic, he argues that The Fire Next Time shows Baldwin committing “amazing acts of intellectual and emotional courage.” (Related: Buzz Poole paid tribute to Baldwin back in 2008.)
How to Sell author Clancy Martin, drawing on his previous career as a jeweler, kicks off a three-parter at the Paris Review blog about how a potential jewelry deal took him to New Orleans and he ended up out on the street, wearing a bath towel and a blazer.
In the beginning was the word, and the word was plagiarized, and this regular old plagiarism was bad. But then Jonah Lehrer taught us about self-plagiarism, and that was bad, too, but somehow less so. And now Jane Goodall is teaching us about Wikipedia plagiarism, which seems bad as well, and you know what? It’s hard to grade these things anymore. What’s next? David Bowie cribbing lines from T.S. Eliot?
New this week: The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel; The Book of Memory by Petina Gappah; Youngblood by Matthew Gallagher; Black Deutschland by Darryl Pinckney; The Collected Novellas of Stefan Zweig; A Decent Ride by Irvine Welsh; Don’t Lose Track by Jordannah Elizabeth; and The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee (who we interviewed this week). For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great 2016 Book Preview.
Belle and Sebastian’s Stevie Jackson, better known (at least to this writer) as the Sultan of Twee, sits down with Rick Moody as part of the Swinging Modern Sounds feature over at The Rumpus. Among other things, Jackson says that he thinks the John Lennon album Sometime in New York City is a “total masterpiece” and says that at one point in his life he could recite the book Trainspotting.