Are we now living in a golden age of the uncanny? The Millions contributor Porochista Khakpour suspects that we are, and she also suspects that our historical moment, populated as it is with alienating developments and surreal art, is key to understanding the work of Helen Oyeyemi. In the Times, Khakpour reviews Oyeyemi’s new novel. (You could also read both writers’ Year in Reading pieces.)
"I usually let the thunderous conclusions of love scenes pass without comment, with the exception of one tussle so histrionic that to deny its participants a [JOINT CLIMAXES] seemed downright petty." Our own Matt Seidel discusses his work as a freelancer for a captioning and transcription company at The Morning News.
Claudia Rakine's Citizen: An American Lyric, which won the Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry and was included in our own list of "Nine Books for the Post-Ferguson Era," has been adapted for the stage, and previews are beginning in Los Angeles. Graywolf, the independent press behind Citizen, The Empathy Exams and On Immunity: An Inoculation, has interviewed the playwright behind the adaptation about the project and his process. As he explains it, "what makes the book—and the theatre piece—unique is that they expose and illuminate the small, sometimes unintended, and unconscious acts of everyday racism. Subtle, insidious, soul-crushing."
In an essay for the Los Angeles Review of Books, Peter Birkenhead goes back to Nabokov's Speak, Memory and considers "the way our memories tell themselves to us: in hints, collisions, and rushes, overlapping, upside down, out of order." Pair with our own Garth Risk Hallberg's piece on reading Ada, or Ardor.
"No novel gets uniformly enthusiastic reviews, but the polarized responses to The Goldfinch lead to the long-debated questions: What makes a work literature, and who gets to decide?" Vanity Fair has big questions and lots of opinions about Donna Tartt's latest novel, which we've covered pretty extensively ourselves.
New this week: Stone Mattress: Nine Tales by Margaret Atwood; The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters; My Life as a Foreign Country by Brian Turner; Wallflowers by Eliza Robertson; On Bittersweet Place by Ronna Wineberg; Love Me Back by Merritt Tierce; In the Red by Elena Mauli Shapiro; and Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-half 2014 Book Preview.