In his novels and plays, Sebastian Barry often focuses on segment of Irish society that tends to get ignored in literature — the Irishmen who fought for the British Empire in the first and second World Wars. At Full-Stop, John Cussen reads The Temporary Gentleman, which portrays a British officer, Jack McNulty, who sets out to write his memoirs. (Related: Matt Kavanagh wrote a piece for The Millions on Irish financial fiction after the crash of 2008.)
Out this week: Modern Lovers by Emma Straub; Some Possible Solutions by Helen Phillips; The Gallery of Lost Species by Nina Berkhout; Robert Parris Moses by Laura Visser-Maessen; Hot Little Hands by Abigail Ulman; and The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction by Neil Gaiman. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great 2016 Book Preview.
When asked about his tenure as a professor of creative writing, Harry Crews used to say, “I may be at the university, but I damn sure ain’t of the university.” But in talking to his former students, Crews’s biographer, Ted Geltner, found that in spite of the writer’s efforts to distance himself from academia, he really was a passionate, memorable teacher. (Bonus: Yours truly named one Crews work his “most representative” Florida book.)
The big debut this week is Imperial Bedrooms by Bret Easton Ellis. Also of interest is a new collection of essays by Sloane Crosley, How Did You Get This Number. The much delayed U.S. edition of a controversial 2009 Booker longlister, Ed O’Loughlin’s Not Untrue and Not Unkind, is now out. As is this intriguing curiosity: Peacock and the Buffalo: The Poetry of Nietzsche, which purports to be the “first complete English translation of Nietzsche’s poetry.”
“‘What pleases the PUBLIC is always what’s most banal,’ he wrote to his brother in 1883. But nowadays Van Gogh pleases the public enormously. So has he become banal?” Julian Barnes reflects on Van Gogh’s life and work and how our perception of him has changed over time in a London Review of Books podcast. Interested in contemporary art? Check out our own Bill Morris’s piece on the Whitney Museum.