Hollywood is romanticizing the Beat Generation in its recent adaptations of On the Road (trailer here), Big Sur (trailer here), and Kill Your Darlings, and you can blame Millennials. “In casting the authors as eternally and fundamentally adolescent, the recent revival tones down their behavior—both revolutionary and repulsive—as a sort of passing teenage phase,” Jordan Larson argues for The Atlantic.
It’s not often that a writer has an essay collection and a debut novel come out in the space of a few months, but that’s exactly the situation of Year in Reading alum Roxane Gay, whose novel An Untamed State and collection Bad Feminist are both getting published this year. At Bookforum, Margaret Weppler reads An Untamed State, which displays, she writes, “a staggering sense of strength, confidence and integrity.”
An interview with the author David Bajo, on his new novel Panopticon: “I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of privacy, especially how our society constantly seeks ways to invade it technologically, how we consistently undermine it by happily participating in digital omniscience, yet how we are outraged by the pain that technology and that desire sometimes cause.”
Nowadays, we take it as a given that Tolstoy’s fame was guaranteed by his talent, but many of his contemporaries thought he’d never get a readership outside his native Russia. Why? His writing, as Rosamund Bartlett puts it in a comparison with Turgenev, was “unpolished, more uncompromising and altogether more Russian” than his peers’. If you generally prefer Dostoevsky, you’ll appreciate our survey of scholars on which author was greater. (h/t Arts and Letters Daily)
Yes, but what’s everyone else reading this summer? Bookstores in beach towns know better than to stock “business, personal finance, or diet” books–though poetry does pretty well–but they are looking forward to these bestsellers. The print-disinclined can take heart that there are even a fair number of literary movies coming out soon. (Related: our own recommended summer reading list, also blessedly personal finance-free.)
In the New York Times, a review of 2013 Year in Reading alum Olivia Laing’s new book, which delves into the alcoholism of Hemingway, Fitzgerald and six other famous writers. Among the biographical tidbits in the book: Tennessee Williams had a brandy Alexander every day when he lived in New Orleans.