Jonathan Raban intersperses biographical information about William Gaddis in order to give the correspondence collected in his recently published Letters greater context. There are ample details about the author’s travels in his young adulthood, his artistic frustrations over the publication of The Recognitions, and, of course, many details about the women in Gaddis’s life. “In letters to his mother,” Raban writes, “Gaddis liked to depict himself as someone repeatedly smitten by beautiful women.” (Bonus: “The Letters of William Gaddis contains five letters addressed to me.”
“[B]eing twelve is its own psychosexual dystopian satire, and I was not in on the joke.” Abbey Fenbert writes for Catapult about Aldous Huxley‘s Brave New World, reading-while-tween, and being a seventh-grade book censor. See also: our own brave editor-in-chief, Lydia Kiesling, on reading Huxley a week after last November’s election.
“There is something terrifying but also fascinating about contemplating the end of humanity,” and on Oct. 25th our own Edan Lepucki and Emily St. John Mandel (whose novel Station Eleven was just shortlisted for the National Book Award) will be discussing their recent apocalyptic fictions at the Texas Book Festival.
The 2012 finalists for the Costa (formerly Whitbread) Book Awards have been anounced. In the “Novel” category, they are Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel, Life! Death! Prizes! by Stephen May, The Heart Broke In by James Meek, and Days of the Bagnold Summer by Joff Winterhart. The Costa site has lists of the nominees in all categories.
In Meg Wolitzer’s new YA novel Belzhar, a group of teenagers packed off to an idyllic boarding school learn that they have the ability to undo their most serious traumas. Their discovery is sparked by a writing assignment in a class on Sylvia Plath. At Slate, Jennifer Ray Morell connects Wolitzer’s novel to Plath’s classic The Bell Jar. Related: our own Hannah Gersen’s interview with biographer Elizabeth Winder.