Don’t feel embarrassed about that trashy novel you’re reading at the beach because summer reading has existed since the 19th Century. Craig Fehrman breaks down the history of pleasure reading. Also, check out our list of alternative “beach” books.
“According to David Means and his debut novel, Hystopia, [classic war novels] aren’t simply about confronting the horrors of war, but also about concealing them, hiding them under a layer of rationalizations and wishful thinking that often simplifies their lawless anarchy and finds sense, meaning and purpose where there’s little.” Over at Electric Lit, Simon Chandler reviews David Means’s Hystopia.
“On closer inspection, however, the book comes off as something more complicated than a flowering of one eccentric and filthy man’s erotic imagination. Its elaborate descriptions of pleasure given and taken start to seem like scrims for a moral argument about what sorts of sexual behaviors should be ‘forbid’ and which should be encouraged—an argument refined in prison by an author deeply occupied with thoughts of punishment, dissipation, and sin.” On John Cleland’s (very erotic) novel Fanny Hill and the importance of its having been written in prison.
Try out our new “Random Post” button below the search boxes on the sidebar.CJR unveils new software in the quest to stamp out “gotcha journalism.”* Charlie Gibson, September 11, 2008:Question: “Have you ever met a foreign head of state?”Gotcha Quotient: 95Reason: First of all, foreign policy-related questions are incredibly unfair…Tennis reprints David Foster Wallace’s feature essay from its September 1996 issue.Perhaps not the most useful link in these tight times: “The Most Expensive Things I could Find On Amazon.com” (Note: several of these are out of stock. Coincidence?)None of you saw this coming: Rapper Coolio to release his own cookbook.Cindy Sherman’s famous librarian “Untitled Film Still” fetched $900k at a recent auction.