Recent Pulitzer laureate Adam Johnson has a new short story in Esquire, and it’s a doozy, invoking drone strikes, Obama and Kurt Cobain in the course of its tightly-knit plot. Sample quote: “I wonder if the First Lady was the one to turn off the machine.”
At The New Yorker, Sarah Miller humorously learns why only positive book reviews might be a bad thing. "If St. Petersburg is the Little Engine That Could of city names, then the main character, Raskolnikov, is the Little Engine That Could of elderly pawnbroker murderers," she writes in her review of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment.
Last month, in a review for The Millions, Chris Barsanti called George Packer's The Unwinding an “awe-inspiring X-Ray of the modern American soul.” Now, in The Guardian, Sukhdev Sandhu calls the book “decent, meticulous and concerned,” though it could have benefited from the “roiling prose-fire of Rolling Stone journalist Matt Taibbi.”
This week, Football Book Club will be reading Pulitzer Prize winner Steven Millhauser’s Edwin Mullhouse, as well as posting essays about Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright, lamenting the awful truth about life without the NFL, and probably marveling at the insanity of L. Ron Hubbard.
"Maybe Gnossos, had [Richard] Fariña lived long enough for a sequel, would have wound up on a commune in Canada, nibbling feta and blissed out on retsina, exhaling paregoric joints in some lush and fragrant garden ... But he died in his twenties, like a lot of energetic young men of his era. It was the kind of romantic death we feel we understand almost too well, a promising talent suspended, that sense of exemption he wrote about—from mediocrity, from bourgeois compromise and midlife disappointment—a membrane forever intact." On the enduring joys and exuberant voice of Richard Fariña's Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me.
To give context to a new William Vollmann essay about reading his own FBI profile (available to subscribers only, sadly), Harper’s Magazine published a few pages from Vollmann’s file online. Among other things, they reveal that the FBI considered Vollman “exceedingly intelligent and possessed with an enormous ego." (For a taste of the Harper's essay, you can read this WaPo article on Vollmann's connection to the Unabomber.)