When Damien Searls first read W.G. Sebald, he thought the German writer was uniquely good at factoring historical circumstance into his thinking. Sebald’s unyielding reminders of the horrors of the past were a nice corrective to the feel-good pablums of the ‘90s. But reading Sebald now, Searls thinks something has changed. What happened? The world went online. (Related: Greg Walklin on Sebald’s A Place in the Country.)
Speaking of France: whether or not you find him disagreeable, Michel Houellebecq is pretty much guaranteed to elicit an emotional response from readers. His new opinion piece in The New York Times is no different. Here’s a review of Houellebecq’s The Map and the Territory that refers to him as a “petty misanthrope.”
We’ve already decided that it’s okay for fictional characters to be unlikable, but what about nonfiction writers? At the VQR blog, Jennifer Niesslein interviews essayists on whether their success is based on how amiable they are. “I think it’s ridiculous to expect to like someone who wrote a book you love, but the increasing visibility of writers on social media—who are expected to be the ambassadors of their books—amps up the pressure to be well-liked,” Cheryl Strayed said.
In The Nation, Mark Oppenheimer reviews Janet Malcolm’s Forty-one False Starts, which includes the New Yorker staff writer’s early works of criticism. The problem, he writes, with her and most Western critics? “She is a snob, but wishes she weren’t.” (ICYMI: we published a review a few weeks ago.)
Twenty U.S. publishers have teamed up with Netherlands-based platform Blendle to launch a beta version of the app in the U.S., which allows users to purchase individual articles instead of subscriptions to magazines and newspapers. Many are questioning what the future of journalism may hold in light of this new user model. If you’re wondering about the future of the book, check out our column on it.
Dr. Seuss Went to War: A Catalog of Political Cartoons by Dr. SeussThe Philadelphia Inquirer profiles Joseph O’Neill (via).A primer from Bookride for using the web to check the values of old books. “The first thing to remember is that most books are of low value or no value. Some books are worth less than nothing.”The second issue of Wag’s Revue is out, featuring an interview with T.C. Boyle.For fans of The Wire, issue four of darkmatter Journal analyzes the series with essays like “The Politics of Brisket: Jews and The Wire” and “The Subversion of Heteronormative Assumptions in HBO’s The Wire“.The Rumpus gets listy with George Pelecanos’ favorite WesternsThe Second Pass follows up on our “Most Anticipated” list with a few more books to look forward to.