“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.
“The morning after the opening sentence took shape, Heller “arrived at work”—at the Merrill Anderson Company—“with my pastry and container of coffee and a mind brimming with ideas, and immediately in longhand put down on a pad the first chapter of an intended novel.” The handwritten manuscript totaled about 20 pages. He titled it Catch-18. The year was 1953.” Happy Birthday Joseph Heller, author of the anti-war classic Catch-22, born this day in 1923 in Coney Island, New York.
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.
Last week, I pointed readers to an article about Michael Faber’s latest book and his decision to quit writing fiction. Now, in the Times Book Review, Marcel Theroux sizes up the novel, writing that “the reader is drawn through the book effortlessly, by the combination of incidental strangeness and the suspenseful handling of plot.”
You’ve probably heard the internet adage, “If it exists, there is a porn of it.” Never has that been truer than in the case of the political erotica of 2016. From a particularly colorful Cruz/Rubio series: “’Who is this Hillary you’ve been texting?’ Rubio asks Cruz. ‘Saying things like ‘meet me when Marco’s not home,’ ‘I can hook you up,’ ‘what’s the price’ … don’t act all naïve right now!'”
The more you know! In Victorian times, sitting for a photograph could last hours due to primitive camera technology and the need for long, long exposures. This, predictably, didn’t jibe with kids, and so parents had to adopt an ingenious workaround: disguising themselves in the picture so they could physically restrain the youngsters. (Don’t miss Part 2, either.)