In an excerpt of Out of Time, a new book on “the pleasures and perils of ageing,” author Lynne Segal makes a case that many iconic male writers — among them Philip Roth, John Updike and Martin Amis — display in their works a belief that the slow loss of virility is one of the most tragic effects of growing older for men. Citing passages from Toward the End of Time and Portnoy’s Complaint, she finds evidence that these writers’ depictions of masculinity reveal “obdurate social hierarchies of gender and ageing.” (Related: Keith Meatto on advice you can glean from Philip Roth’s work.)
Year in Reading contributor Kevin Smokler’s new essay collection, Practical Classics, explores the benefits of revisiting the first books you read (even if you hated them). In fact, the difficult and excruciating books have a particular value. “Books aren’t all supposed to be our best friends,” says Smokler in a new Rumpus interview. “Sometimes they’re supposed to be that difficult friend who encourages us to do things that we don’t feel are rational or grown-up.”
Mixer publishing is running a "Sex, Violence, & Satire" contest with a $1,000 prize, and there's still time to enter. So, if you've been chewing on the idea of writing a story containing "sex and satire," "violence and satire," or "sex, violence, and satire," then consider this motivation to finish it up.
In a time of crisis, any decision is better than no decision at all. That line--credited to Theodore Roosevelt--is pop conventional wisdom. An excellent piece at Aeon explores the full implications of the line, and may just convince you that your next impossible choice should be made by a soothsayer, a lottery, or a flipped coin.
The release date for Thomas Pynchon’s new novel is three weeks away, and to mark the occasion, Boris Kachka runs through a quick biography of the perpetually mysterious author. Among other things, Kachka points out that Pynchon resides in a fairly odd neighborhood for a recluse to choose to live in -- the Upper West Side. (Previously: "Thomas Pynchon to Publish New Novel" and "New Thomas Pynchon Teaser.")