Readers of The Neal Pollack Anthology of American Literature most likely have a good idea of just how much the late Norman Mailer was a wellspring of jokes about writers. The pugilistic novelist, journalist and failed mayoral candidate did choose to title a collection of his work Advertisements for Myself, after all. Yet as Andrew O’Hagan notes in the LRB, it’s hard not to admire the cojones on a guy who once told a prominent editor he was “still too young and too arrogant to care to write the kind of high-grade horseshit you print in Harper’s Bazaar.”
What is deracination, and why is it key to understanding American fiction? In her novel Housekeeping, Pulitzer laureate Marilynne Robinson defines it as “the free appreciation of whatever comes under one’s eye,” inspired by the Western sentiment of “feeling no tie of particularity to any single past or history.” In the Boston Review, Jess Row states that deracination is “a long-lived and nearly universal trope in white American literature,” claiming it represents “an American ideal: not to strip from the roots, but to de-race oneself.”
Tom Wolfe is back with his new novel Back to Blood (our review) and Jami Attenberg's The Middlesteins is out. Lemony Snicket is kicking off a new series for kids, illustrated by artist Seth. Finally, do you want to know everything about everything? The Onion is looking out for you with its new Onion Book of Known Knowledge: A Definitive Encyclopaedia Of Existing Information.
Stephen King, Haruki Murakami, Chris Adrian, James Frey, and Peter Nádas are all in the running for the 19th annual Bad Sex Award. The award will be presented by the UK's Literary Review on December 6th. Last year's prize(?) went to Rowan Somerville for his work(?) in The Shape of Her. If you'd like to read snippets of the sex scenes in question, check out the publication's Twitter feed.