Writing about a foreign country is always a dodgy proposition, but it seems to be especially thorny when English people and Americans take on their transatlantic brethren. Looking over two contributions to the genre by English writers — Terry Eagleton’s Across the Pond and A.A. Gill’s To America With Love — Carlin Romano concludes that neither manages to “teach us something new about ourselves.”
“Whatever the facts of her life – whether she turned out to be an ancient man living in the Icelandic interior or a woman waiting tables at a Texan diner – Ferrante writes in an autobiographical mode. That is fuel for the truthers, a sort of literary ankle-flashing. But it is also good cover for another motive: a very contemporary form of envy of another’s autonomous space and their creativity, a rage that while they give us their work, they will not also give us their person.” On a new collection of Elena Ferrante’s letters, interviews and short pieces.
“But was I actually reading? I regarded myself as a reader, but were these really books?” In LitHub, James Tate Hill pens an essay about reading while visually impaired and the questions it raises in a print book obsessed world. Pair with: our own Bill Morris on hearing an actor narrate his novel’s audiobook.
David Denby wonders: After nearly 150 years have passed since its initial publication and countless imitators have blunted its artistic radicalism does Dostoevsky’s Notes from the Underground still pack a punch? For more contemporary readings of Dostoevsky, see Rob Goodman’s recent article on forensics, The Brothers Karamazov and the death of the courtroom drama.
Lucky Alan, which came out in February, is Jonathan Lethem’s first new story collection in more than ten years. He talked with Matt Bell about it in an interview at Salon. “What’s great about short stories is the opportunity to play at reinvention; all those new departures, all those new landings to try to stick,” he says. You could also read our review of his novel Dissident Gardens.