Just because Beowulf‘s influence on Tolkien isn’t news doesn’t mean the publication of J.R.R. Tolkien‘s translation of the epic poem this week isn’t exciting. But while Tolkien’s name alone may be enough for the serious fan, Ethan Gilsdorf at the New York Times has given general readers an introduction to the history of the new translation complete with some insight into Tolkien’s love of the epic poem.
New this week stateside is buzzed-about Booker shortlister Room by Emma Donoghue. Also out: Gold Boy, Emerald Girl, a new collection by “20 Under 40” lister Yiyun Li; Sigrid Nunez’s post-apocalyptic Salvation City; and a McSweeney’s-published memoir Half a Life by Chang and Eng author Darin Strauss.
“Much of the time, though, readers will be thinking that the ‘literary correspondence’ is something we’re well shot of – a postwar embarrassment, like child labour, meat rationing and outdoor toilets.” Martin Amis reviews the recent collection of Philip Larkin’s love letters, Letters to Monica, at Guardian.
“I am worried about the implications of throwing the label ‘women’s pain’ around individual experiences of suffering, and I am even more uncomfortable with women who feel free to speak for all women. I worry about making pain a ticket to gain entry into the women’s club. And I worry that the assumption of vulnerability threatens to invigorate just the sexist evils it aims to combat by demanding that men serve as shields against it.” In an essay for the Boston Review, Jessa Crispin shares her concerns about the “wounded women” trend in literature right now, citing Leslie Jamison‘s The Empathy Exams and Roxane Gay‘s Bad Feminist as well the Twitter campaign #yesallwomen as particular examples. Pair with Ryan Teitman‘s Millions review of The Empathy Exams.
“It suddenly went off: ‘Oh, fuck, I’m going to try it as a novel, aren’t I?’ A terrifying realization because John Lennon is such an iconic figure—and the feeling I get out around there, this kind of eeriness, this kind of strange haunted reverberation. I mean, the fuckin’ Atlantic is a really weird thing to grow up right beside.” Millions staff writer Bill Morris sat down with Kevin Barry to talk about his new book, Beatlebone, and about the trouble of getting John Lennon’s voice right on the page. Morris has brought you a bit on Barry in the past.
“[T]he term was first recorded in 2012, but its use increased significantly during the federal election this year, especially with the popularity of several websites set up to help voters find polling stations with sausage sizzles.” Australia’s word of the year is “democracy sausage,” reports The Canberra Times. Other national choices, according to Mental Floss: postfaktisch, or “post-truth” in Germany, and the 52-letter-long Bundespraesidentenstichwahlwiederholungsverschiebung, or “postponement of the repeat runoff of the presidential election” in Austria.
Every so often, a piece comes along that rends the fragile mind, employing a devil’s portion of mundane details to lay bare the inescapable futility of all human endeavor. This is the only rational way to describe this piece at The Awl, which takes the form of a conversation between Karl Ove Knausgaard and True Detective’s Nic Pizzolatto.