Moby-Dick is a quintessential Great American Novel, perhaps even the greatest, but it might not be pure fiction. That’s what George Dobbs argues in a piece on “The Real Life Inspirations Behind Moby-Dick” for The Airship. Invention or not, at least we can be thankful no cannibalism sneaked its way onto the Pequod…
“I never thought of myself as an outsider. Because outside of what? You would have to give advantage to this space where you’re not, to think of it as sovereign because you’re not there. I was always in the center of where I needed to be.” Aleksander Hemon on writing his new book.
There are plenty of new books to this week to fill that post-election void: Both Flesh and Not: Essays, a posthumously published collection from David Foster Wallace; Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behavior; Prosperous Friends by Christine Schutt; Magnificence by Lydia Millet; and These Things Happen, a debut by longtime TV writer Richard Kramer. From the indies, we have The Care and Feeding of Exotic Pets by Diana Wagman and Keyhole Factory by William Gillespie. Also out are Philip Pullman’s new version of Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm; Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks; and a big new Michael Jackson biography by a former Rolling Stone editor.
Sometimes, it’s easier to read or watch something that’s light and airy, as opposed to seeking out art that challenges your perspective. Millions contributor Fiona Maazel generally thinks of herself as a person who instinctively chose nuance over breeziness. But lately, she’s had to ask herself a tough question — is she actually more attracted to the anodyne?
Recommended Reading: This unsettling, important essay by Kira Jane Buxton at The Rumpus: “He starts to move with a slow hiss. This is his place, his world, and so when he walks he does it slowly, time in his pockets. He keeps his eyes on me, keeps me in my place in his world. I can’t hold the fear back for much longer, the bridle is snapping.”