“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.)
The Skinny is acclaimed author Susan Orlean’s strangest work, hands down: a half-serious diet book that advises women, among other things, to cover tempting food with bleach. Not one to follow her own advice, Orlean’s diary of a week of eating for Grub Street features yogurt breakfasts, crackers eaten over sinks, and other basically realistic, bleach-free culinary adventures.
If for some unspeakable reason you didn’t follow my advice when I urged you to subscribe to the VQR over a year ago, then perhaps you need more convincing. Enter: Ron Charles. He’s got a brief preview of the magazine’s Winter Issue, which hit shelves this week, and which contains an essay based on Natasha Trethewey’s Library of Congress speech.
As literary apprenticeships go, it’s hard to beat a chance to live with Doris Lessing. In 1963, not long after the death of Sylvia Plath, Jenny Diski moved in with the future Nobel laureate, who lived just north of King’s Cross in London at the time. In the LRB, Diski recounts her friendship with the novelist.