In the latest issue of the New York Review of Books, Ice Trilogy author Vladimir Sorokin looks at the current events related to Ukraine, Russia, and Crimea, and notes that “the Russian state’s ‘vertical power’ structure” (which is to say “monarchical structure”) is what keeps the Russian people held “hostage to the psychosomatic quirks of its leader.”
I really dug this write up of a visit by Edward P. Jones to a Seattle high school, where he talked to some kids about being a writer. I’m fascinated by Jones’ persona. He’s not a hermit, but neither is he a part of the more public contemporary literary crowd, all of whom seem to be associated with the same causes and who enjoy this sort of literary pseudo-fame while at the same time making a bit of a show about shying away from it. Of course I’m overgeneralizing here, but I’m sure you can think of some writers who might fit that description. I suppose my larger point is Jones seems to me to be a writer who, in an earlier time, would have only achieved fame late in his career or even posthumously, and I’m just really glad that he has gotten the acclaim that he deserves.I saw the movie Fever Pitch last night and enjoyed the way last year’s baseball season was woven into the story so well. It also made me very curious to read Nick Hornby’s novel by the same name, in which the protagonist is a rabid soccer fan. I’m not a big Hornby fan, but I’m very curious to see if they managed to swap out the sport at the center of the story while keeping the same overall feeling. Quite a feat if they managed to do a good job of it. One thing is clear though, trying to slap a movie tie-in cover on Hornby’s book wouldn’t have worked very well.Rodger Jacobs has set up a blog to track entries in his “Fitzgerald in Hollywood Short Fiction Contest.”Chicagoist looks at books “with local ties.” I’ve read All This Heavenly Glory and Gods in Alabama, but the third book The Week You Weren’t Here by Charles Blackstone sounds interesting.
In her new book The Sixth Extinction, New Yorker staff writer Elizabeth Kolbert makes the case that we’re living in the sixth massive die-off of species in our planet’s history. Corraling evidence from zoologists, environmentalists and more, Kolbert argues that human activity is the cause of this latest event. In a review over at Vulture, Kathryn Schulz writes that Kolbert “makes a page-turner out of even the most sober and scientifically demanding aspects of extinction.”
A good week for new releases: John McPhee’s new, more personal collection of essays, Silk Parachute, Sam Lipsyte’s The Ask, and, of course, our own Sonya Chung’s debut Long for This World. All three of these books were on our “Most Anticipated” list for 2010. New in paperback today is Colm Tóibín’s Brooklyn.