Heaven forbid someone ever draws parallels between your writing and that of “Robert Rabelais the Younger.” For his work, published in the nineteenth century, has been described as “the most appallingly bad epic poem to have ever been written in English, comprised of 384 interminable pages of doggerel verse devoid of any literary merit, an opus d’odure that screams stinkburger.” (And that’s one of the more positive evaluations.)
New this week: The Most of Nora Ephron; At Night We Walk in Circles by New Yorker 20 Under 40er Daniel Alarcón; S., a novel written by Doug Dorst in collaboration with J.J. Abrams (which naturally has a trailer); and The Gorgeous Nothings, a full-color facsimile of poems that Emily Dickinson drafted on the backs of envelopes. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great Second-Half 2013 Book Preview.
Nabokov once described himself “as American as April in Arizona,” which is an odd thing to call yourself when you’re a lepidopterist Russian expat. In Nabokov in America, Robert Roper explores why Nabokov felt he was so American, and how his journey to that identity influenced his writing of Lolita. At The Literary Review, Ian Sansom reviews Roper’s book.
“The things I do not want to write about become the things I write about.” Year in Reading alumnus Eimear McBride talks to The Guardian on the occasion of her second novel’s arrival. The Lesser Bohemians follows upon her hugely successful debut, A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing, which we reviewed back when it came out in the U.S.
“Somehow, in my eagerness to honor these words, I’d tamed the political intentions behind their meaning. I’d reduced my icon’s truths into affirmational pick-me-ups rather than letting them sink deeper.” Dianca Potts reflects on how to best to appreciate the fullness of Maya Angelou, Audre Lorde and Toni Morrison. We need to resist erasing their complexities in our haste to embrace them as icons or reduce them to inspirational quotes.