“The story that Lee’s book tells (or tries to tell, because much evidence has been obscured or lost) is not about patience on a monument but about talent buried under a heavy plinth, and discovered only just in time—the late achievement less a measured distillation than a lifesaving decoction.” James Wood reviews Hermione Lee‘s new biography of novelist Penelope Fitzgerald for The New Yorker. Pair with Niamh Ni Mhaoileoin‘s Millions essay on the new age of biography.
Out this week: Autonomous by Annalee Newitz; Sun in Days by Meghan O’Rourke; The Good People by Hannah Kent; The Exact Nature of Our Wrongs by Janet Peery; and The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
C author Tom McCarthy takes on The Pale King in the New York Times Book Review this week. Separately, though the hard cover of The Pale King shipped and appeared on shelves ahead of the announced April 15 release date, the Kindle version only became available yesterday, right on schedule.
“Rather than presenting a single, definitive story—an ostensibly objective chronicle of events—these books offer a past of competing perspectives, of multiple voices. They are not so much historical as archival: instead of giving us the imagined experience of an event, they offer the ambiguous traces that such events leave behind.” On the role of realist historical fictions.
“Over the past thirty-five years alone, language from Frost’s poem has appeared in nearly two thousand news stories worldwide, which yields a rate of more than once a week. In addition, ‘The Road Not Taken’ appears as a title, subtitle, or chapter heading in more than four hundred books by authors other than Robert Frost, on subjects ranging from political theory to the impending zombie apocalypse.” David Orr writes for The Paris Review about Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken,” one of the most misread poems of the English language.
“Steinem welcomed them all—the rich, the celebrities, the climbers for the cause. She was a radical but, consciously, never an outsider. She enjoyed the world where she plied her trade as an entrepreneur of social change, and, with her mouth spray at hand, she had long since mastered the subterfuges of talking truth to power. You could call it consciousness-raising—on a wider canvas.” The New Yorker profiles Gloria Steinem in anticipation of her latest release, My Life on the Road.