As you may have heard from our own Bill Morris, The Canyons, the new movie starring James Deen and Lindsey Lohan, is a bad film that somehow manages to be worth watching anyway. At the LARB, Naomi Fry agrees with this assessment, arguing that the film is important because it “identifies how desperately many of us still want to believe that the larger-than-life, commodified good life is still available to us.”
“[I]n the world of letters, it is hard to imagine a more seismic change than this one.” The New York Times announces that its longtime book critic Michiko Kakutani is stepping down after nearly four decades of reviews.
The Times also offers a roundup of her greatest hits, including writeups of Beloved, Infinite Jest, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and Bill Clinton‘s memoir My Life:
The book, which weighs in at more than 950 pages, is sloppy, self-indulgent and often eye-crossingly dull — the sound of one man prattling away, not for the reader, but for himself and some distant recording angel of history.
This announcement was followed by the great news that repeat Year in Reading alumna Parul Sehgal will join Jennifer Senior and Dwight Garner as a Times book critic, leaving her position as senior editor of the NYT Book Review. Congratulations, Parul!
“A chemist colleague of mine runs a seminar in which art and science are brought together. And one such session was devoted to olfaction. And there was an olfactory physiologist from Columbia and a friend of his, a parfumier. Forgive my French accent. And the parfumier had made something unlike anything ever encountered on earth. And it had a very strong smell which aroused no associations and could not be compared to anything. One realized this was absolute novelty.” The Rumpus interviews Oliver Sacks about his new book, Hallucinations.
Out this week: Ember Days by our own Nick Ripatrazone, Early Warning by Jane Smiley; Madam President by The View co-host Nicolle Wallace; Black Run by Antonio Manzini; Devotion by Maile Meloy; Collected Poems by Michael Gizzi; Volume 5 of The Letters of T.S. Eliot; and Book 4 of My Struggle by Karl Ove Knausgaard. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great 2015 Book Preview.
“They said banning me from Twitter would finish me off. Just as I predicted, the opposite has happened.” Talking Points Memo reports that Simon & Schuster is moving forward with plans to publish a book by Breitbart News editor and white nationalist Milo Yiannopoulos, whose extended harassment of comedian Leslie Jones finally led to his expulsion from Twitter last year. Critics of the publishing house have called for its boycott, including some of its own authors.
Masha Gessen will be the first writer to publish a book about the Boston Marathon bombing suspects, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Previously the author demonstrated her knowledge of Chechnya in her 2012 book The Man Without a Face. Gessen, who is also working on a book about embattled punk group Pussy Riot, will reportedly leave her directorship at Moscow Radio Liberty in order to report on both projects full time.
Year in Reading alum Maud Newton has a new short story up on Medium. Titled “Nobody’s Stranger,” the “Miami noir love story” somewhat wonderfully features a bar, “the most incongruous bar in Little Haiti,” in which the patrons are mostly “aging emo kids and British soccer fans and overweight burlesque enthusiasts.”