Jonathan Franzen’s Kraus Project should be “a match made in heaven,” writes Jacob Mikanowski, because of how it pairs together “the old hater [Karl Kraus] and the new [Franzen], the Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid of cultural criticism drawn together across the gulf of a century to take on all comers.” Alas, the end result is instead a “strange and rather discordant experience, like receiving a deep tissue massage while being spat on from a great height.” (Bonus: One of the best London Review of Books openers of all time.)
“For good or evil, we are a single people: the more we become conscious of this, the less difficult and long will be humanity’s progress towards justice and peace.” The inimitable Primo Levi on the spiritual value of science and its ability to bring people together.
“If Gwendolyn Brooks wrote fiction, we’d say she was brilliant at world-building–but the world she builds is the real one, the part that didn’t used to make it into the pages of literary magazines.” On the continued relevance of Brooks’s poetry in the context of racial violence in Chicago. Pair with a piece on the power of reading poetry aloud.
Out this week: Perfect Little World by Kevin Wilson; Dark at the Crossing by Eliot Ackerman; Days Without End by Sebastian Barry; Mexico by Josh Barkan; The Signal Flame by Andrew Krivak; and Number 11 by Jonathan Coe. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
Expats of all stripes have trouble defining the word “home,” which is true even when the expat is someone like James Wood, who left England for America in the ‘90s and set up a life for himself in Massachusetts. In the LRB, he describes the odd pain of emigration, lamenting that his “English reality” has faded into memory. (You could also read Charles Finch on trying to live up to Wood’s standards.)