“To attempt to write seriously is always, I feel, to fail,” Will Self told The Guardian. He and six other authors, including Margaret Atwood and Lionel Shriver, reflect on their life, career, and love disappointments. Pair with: our own Edan Lepucki’s essay on accepting rejection.
The thing about Dave Chappelle, writes Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah in her marvelous essay on the comedian’s family history, the success of Chappelle’s Show, and how the two informed his opinions on race, “is that he was suddenly vaulted into the awkward position of being the world’s most famous interlocutor in a conversation about race—the one conversation no one likes having.” In light of his recent heckling in Connecticut, as well as the continued misinterpretation of his comedy, “it’s easy to understand why Chappelle was done with being misread, tired of explaining, [and so he] finished talking.”
The Rake takes note of the New Yorker’s particularly dark reading of Goodnight Moon.Iain Hollingshead gamely responds to being awarded the “Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction Award” for his debut novel Twentysomething, which included such turns of phrase as “everything is pure white as we’re lost in a commotion of grunts and squeaks.”With a few celebs getting in trouble for racist outbursts this year Malcolm Gladwell (ever thoughtful) comes up with a way to figure out who’s really being offensive and who’s just dumb.Maud points to a new blog from one of my favorite publishers, NYRB Press.Dozens of year end-lists floating around here and elsewhere, but I always take special note of Jonathan Yardley’s year-end column because it is always thoughtful and sometimes surprising.To do (as soon as I have the time): listen to the Bat Segundo Show that features Edward P. Jones.
“The Laughing Monsters is, ultimately, about reality, myth, and outright lies. Johnson has always been interested in those moments when the thin skin of the world breaks and we are ushered, unprepared, into another realm.” Stav Sherez reviews Denis Johnson‘s The Laughing Monsters (which we listed in our Second-Half 2014 book preview) and considers the modern spy thriller for the Los Angeles Review of Books.