Landlord, patron, gardener, traveler— Elizabeth Gilbert is so much more than a memoirist. Steve Almond profiles Gilbert for The New York Times and finds out about her return to fiction with her new novel, The Signature of All Things. Yet Gilbert doesn’t disparage her Eat, Pray, Love fame and readers, even if others do. “I want to say: ‘Go [expletive] yourself! You have no idea who the women are who read my books, and if I have to choose between them and you, I’m choosing them.’”
Whether or not you knew that Rose Williams, sister of Tennessee, inspired the character of Laura Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie, you’ll probably appreciate this Paris Review elegy, which goes through Rose’s short life and the effect it had on her brother.
Vanity Fair remembers Christopher Hitchens, a favorite of ours who was always fun to root for, and who, as you’ve no doubt heard by now, died last night. Andrew Sullivan remembers an email exchange from happier times. Hitchens’ ebook from this year, The Enemy, is in our Hall of Fame, and we reviewed his memoir, Hitch-22, last year.
“These sorts of connections are at the centre of nearly all time machine fiction. These novels usually draw attention to telling commonalities across historical eras, or between the past and the present. That gives an engaging puzzle quality to the books—we read seeking out the dropped clues that will shed light on the purpose of the parallel.” On fiction in which the plot takes place over multiple timelines.
If you enjoyed the profile of Anne Carson in the latest New York Times Magazine – fictitious “ice bats” notwithstanding – you’re going to really love Parul Sehgal and Nathan Huffstutter’s two takes on Red Doc>. The work, Sehgal writes, is “suspended between what it is and what we want it to be.” And also, writes Huffstutter, it’s a work that “courses with a wit shot through with intelligence and humility.”
In a long investigation of Hunter S. Thompson’s classic essay, “The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved” (PDF), Josh Roiland takes readers to church by pointing out exactly what’s so alluring about the piece, which “scholars often point to … as the origin of Gonzo Journalism.”