Novels that focus on obsessive characters hinge on persnickety details. The need to depict accurately the mind of an obsessive demands that the novelist overemphasize the trifling and tangential. In The Kenyon Review, Vanessa Blakeslee reviews a new and representative example of the form, The Understory by Pamela Erens. Sample quote: “When the smaller steps of daily life are magnified, does that narrative reach its greatest potential for a unified and powerful resonance?” FYI, Erens has written for us.
Our heartfelt congratulations to Greg Fawcett, winner of this year’s Ernest Hemingway look-alike contest. He credits his success in the competition with “dedication, timing his haircuts carefully and paying attention to the length of his beard.” Looking good Greg, and all you other Papas in Miami.
Catching you up to speed with two recent literary controversies: 1) Poets & Writers‘ MFA rankings kerfuffle gets a climactic and eloquent summary from The Missouri Review‘s Michael Nye. 2) In response to her Salon article, “How the National Book Awards made themselves irrelevant,” Victor LaValle has some fightin’ words for Laura Miller.
“Though female authors write experimental novels about women—like Renata Adler’s Speedboat or Sheila Heti’s How Should a Person Be?—the avant-garde has long been associated with male authors and stories. That association made Alexandra Kleeman’s You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine seem doubly unusual.” On Kleeman’s debut novel and blatantly feminine themes in the avant-garde.