“Marlon James’s management of the voice and the paragraph isn’t what you’d call unpretty, and he’s good at having it both ways on a larger scale too. Reptilian black-ops masterminds out of a Robert Stone novel as well as bumbling CIA bureaucrats, baroque deaths in the bush and casual killings by the side of the road, historical and magic realism, sex and violence and a more ‘sophisticated kind of art’: the guy’s got it all.” This review of James’ A Brief History of Seven Killings from The London Review of Books is well worth the read.
Yet another open archive for your summer reading enjoyment: the Baffler (“the Journal that Blunts the Cutting Edge”), as part of a website redesign, has made available its entire back catalog of commentary and fiction. Might I suggest starting with this now-charmingly-antiquated piece on marketing to the youthful “hipster” generation? (The Paris Review has other suggestions. It’s hard to go wrong.)
“If Gothic literature had a family tree, its twisted gnarled branches chock-full of imperiled, swooning heroines and mysterious monks, with ghosts who sit light on the branches, and Frankenstein’s monster who sits heavy, with troops of dwarves, and winking nuns, and stunted, mostly nonflammable babies, at its base would sit Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto.” Carrie Frye writes for Longreads about the history and personality behind the first Gothic novel, which turns 250 this year.
Recommended Reading: This review, though it is really much more than that, of Daniel Williams’ Defenders of the Unborn. Williams’ book takes a detailed look at the history of anti-abortion activism before Roe v. Wade, but more generally it seeks to complicate our entire definition of activism in the context of the pro-life/pro-choice debate.
“Few countries that debuted in the 1700s have been as controversial or long running (it’s into its 237th season now) as America. It may not have the staying power of perennial favorites such as China or the credibility of indie darlings such as Finland, but America has proven that it can at least make some cultural impact. It’s not the best, but hey, they can’t all be Louie.”