If your default mood hovers between melancholy and despair, you may be cheered (or at least made a bit less glum) by this argument that striving for happiness is bad for us in the long run. Mari Ruti makes the case that a “happy, balanced life” depends in large part on a kind of emotional numbness.
Haruki Murakami will publish his first short story collection in nine years this spring. Men Without Women will feature five previously published stories (including the controversial “Drive My Car”) and one new story. The book comes out in Japan in April, but there is no word on when we’ll see an English translation.
Penelope Fitzgerald has been getting a lot of attention lately, largely due to Hermione Lee‘s newest biography. In an article for the Paris Review, Bridget Read considers the impact a better understanding of Fitzgerald’s life could have on her modern reputation, and argues that “it is not extraordinary that she became a prize-winning novelist, though you may have heard otherwise. … It is vital to emphasize that Fitzgerald’s novels were not achieved in spite of her domestic life; they were borne directly out of it. Her work is radical in that it suggests that, in fact, a feminine experience, a liminal experience, might be better equipped than a male one to address the contradictions of human existence taken up by the greatest literature.”
Sam Jordison asks us how Heller’s Catch-22 became a bestseller. “Yossarian’s kept a lasting grip on our collective psyche; he’s the ultimate moral rebel. To object to him would be to put yourself on the side of stuffed shirts, those who kill for profit and in the name of absurd patriotism.”
“To age is to understand that the powers of total recovery are gone, are no longer anticipated (except by those who, having lost their marbles, no longer know what to anticipate).” The epistolary legacy of writers such as Samuel Beckett, Saul Bellow, and Elizabeth Bishop offers invaluable insight into the process of growing older, writes Robert Fay for The Atlantic. See also our own Lydia Kiesling on the narrative possibilities of leaked emails.