“The Goldfinch is a grand nineteenth-century novel in that it is an 800-page chronicle of capitalism, a paean to the ways in which the world turns on the questions of who can or can’t pay for what, and how these abilities and inabilities mold us over time. Like the life events and relationships it depicts, it purports to be about love but is actually about money. This portrayal of twentieth century North American society is accurate, but also, just as in life, both exhausting and demoralizing.” On Donna Tartt’s latest novel. (You could also read Adam Dalva’s take on the book.)
New from Stephen Fry: Stephen Fry in America: Fifty States and the Man Who Set Out to See Them All, a book recounting his travels in America while filming the BBC series of the same name–enlighteningly and entertainingly reviewed at The Washington Times. Includes the shocking revelation that Fry very nearly became an American!
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In the first two lines of a piece in the latest New Yorker about the Alaskan poet Olena Kalytiak Davis, Dan Chiasson points out that her new book, The Poem She Didn’t Write and Other Poems, has an undeniably excellent title. In describing her appeal, he says that her submissions to the canon are “anti-submissions,” by which he means that she actively rejects association with more famous poets. “Davis’s professed unworthiness is one of many tricky manifestations of her ambition,” he writes.
What inspired Samuel Clemens to change his name to Mark Twain? Was it a Mississippi riverboat captain? Did he earn it by “drinking at a one-bit saloon in Virginia City, Nevada?” Or, as rare book dealer Kevin Mac Donnell now alleges in the new issue of Mark Twain Journal, did the author find his pseudonym in a popular humor journal?