“A very proper letter (‘scrutinized and corrected by the magazine’s fact checkers and proofreaders,’ wrote the Times) was sent to [Robert] Gottlieb, beseeching him to decline the [New Yorker] job,” writes Elon Green in his overview of Gottlieb’s brief stint as the magazine’s editor. How would you feel if Donald Barthelme, Deborah Eisenberg, Ian Frazier, Jamaica Kincaid, Janet Malcolm, J.D. Salinger, and 148 others all told you, “don’t come” to your new job?
“My mind moves toward apocalypse fictions the way we think about a forgotten friend, or a partner that’s left us—grief becomes its own comfort.” Adnan Khan writes for Hazlitt about how apocalypse fictions mirror the immigrant experience and vice versa.
“Yes, it’s easy to laugh at the lawyers. But what if the lawyers were right? For the question that still needs to be answered, I think, is whether the arguments over the novel’s obscenity and obscurity were just temporary historical effects or whether they point to the essence of Joyce’s originality.” A longform look at why we should still find Ulysses scandalous.
“I suspect ‘chess rage’ and ‘road rage’ are neighboring neural impulses.” Tom Russell at Guernica Magazine has written a fascinating essay on a summer spent playing chess in Bryant Park and the unexpected artistic beauty of the game. Here’s a cursorily-related review of The Chess Machine, a book which features an unbeatable chess-playing automaton controlled by a dwarf.
Out this week: The Small Backs of Children by Lidia Yuknavitch; The Woman Who Stole My Life by Marian Keyes; The Hand that Feeds You by A.J. Rich; Among the Ten Thousand Things by Julia Pierpont; Vanishing Games by Roger Hobbs; The Last Pilot by Benjamin Johncock; Speak by Louisa Hall; The Way Things Were by Aatish Taseer; The Invaders by Karolina Waclawiak; Pretty Is by Maggie Mitchell; You Don’t Have to Live Like This by Benjamin Markovits; French Concession by Xiao Bai; The Captive Condition by Kevin P. Keating; and the paperback edition of our own Edan Lepucki’s California. For more on these and other new titles, check out our latest book preview.
We’ve published essays before on the importance of good grammar, but it’s rare that something comes along that illustrates its value so clearly. A couple weeks ago, the Times published a blurb about This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, a recent essay collection by Ann Patchett, that led to the author sending in what may be the best correction of all time. For more on Patchett’s work, you could read Kevin Charles Redmon on her book State of Wonder.