Shakespeare was an insult master, as were Churchill, Dorothy Parker, Oscar Wilde and… Cézanne? Apparently so. In The Irish Times, Colm Tóibín reads through the painter’s letters, one of which includes a gripe that “Pissarro is an old fool [and] Monet is a wily bird.” (You could also read Claire Cameron’s Millions review of Tóibín’s latest novel.)
If you haven’t already, meet Coeur de Pirate, the beautiful and charming Quebec singer-songwriter Béatrice Martin. Her sound’s somewhere between Françoise Hardy and Icelandic band Seabear. Here’s the video for “Comme des Enfants” and here’s a fan-made video for “Printemps” (my favorite C de P song).
We cover a decent number of literary awards here at The Millions, but we, like most magazines, have a tendency to focus on the present. At the LARB, Andrew Nicholls makes up for this by recounting the very first book awards, in which Mooluu’s “The Beast Attacked” goes head-to-head with Kurtan the Elder’s “Why Half My Face is Missing.” You could also read our own Mark O’Connell on why we care about literary prizes to begin with.
Out this week: The Animals by Christian Kiefer; The Precious One by Marisa de los Santos; A Reunion of Ghosts by Judith Claire Mitchell; The Lost Boys Symphony by Mark Andrew Ferguson; The Wisdom of Perversity by Rafael Yglesias; The Shadow of the Crescent Moon by Fatima Bhutto; The Wednesday Group by Sylvia True; Night at the Fiestas by Kirstin Valdez Quade; and Notes from a Dead House, a new Dostoevsky translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky (whom we’ve interviewed). For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great 2015 Book Preview.
Dwight Garner, writing in the current issue of The New York Times Magazine, laments that so many high-end American novelists seem to be working on “the nine-year plan,” delivering a new novel roughly once a decade. He cites Jeffrey Eugenides, who will be out soon with The Marriage Plot, his third novel in 18 years, along with such slow cookers as Jonathan Franzen, Donna Tartt and Michael Chabon. One name Garner neglected to mention is the Pulitzer Prize-winner William Kennedy, who will be out next month with Chango’s Beads and Two-Tone Shoes, the eighth installment in his Albany cycle and his first novel since Roscoe appeared nine years and nine months ago. Look for our review of it here next month.
Meet the Bosavi woolly rat, a new breed of giant rat recently discovered in the forests of Papua New Guinea. Weighing in at over three pounds and measuring more than three feet long, it’s thought to be the largest known species of rat on the planet.