“This is a tricky novel to review. I’m not even sure it is a novel. And I’m not certain as to whether its fragmentary nature belies an organic structure of astutely sewn intention or is merely a disingenuous device to conceal a let’s-get-something-out cobbling together of unpublished material lying around the writer’s desk. What I can tell you is this: I was powerfully engaged and richly entertained by Sergio De La Pava’s Personae.” (Related: our own Garth Risk Hallberg wrote a profile of De La Pava.)
What if H.P. Lovecraft’s work were set in Hollywood instead of New England? At The Toast, Kevin Sharp writes Lovecraftian gossip columns. “Two very famous couples, both well known for their complicated personal lives and grand professional successes (less known, perhaps, for the horrid dark secrets that throb and scream in their antediluvian Hollywood mansions), met for a fateful dinner.”
Allan Gurganus commemorates the 100th anniversary of his teacher and friend John Cheever’s birth. “Cheever, now unfairly known as the gloomy, sodden satyr of suburbia,” Gurganus writes, “was at least rarely gloomy. Fact is he was more fun per minute than is legal in a nation this Republican.”
The good folks at Dorothy labored over a tremendous “Book Map” depicting the settings of some 600 literary works based in London. The books, poems, and essays selected for the map run the gamut from T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land” to J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.
This week the Paris Review launched a new online series, Big, Bent Ears, a “Serial in Documentary Uncertainty” masterminded by Sam Stephenson and Ivan Weiss. Each installation features “a combination of video, audio, photography, and writing in various arrangements and states of completion,” and the first chapter overlaps Joseph Mitchell and the Big Ears Music Festival even though “the two projects seem to share little: one concerns a wordsmith, a chronicler, and preserver of fading traditions; the other, musicians challenging tradition and musical forms on a sometimes radical basis.”