A few days ago, our own Kaulie Lewis pointed readers to a LARB essay about Geoff Dyer, which nicely complemented a piece about the author our own Mark O’Connell wrote for Slate back in June. Now, at Full-Stop, David Burr Gerard suggests that Dyer’s strengths, which worked so well in Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi, may have hampered him in Another Great Day at Sea. FYI, our own Janet Potter reviewed the latter book for The Millions.
“So, each year, I can’t help but ask: Is there a political point to be made for calling non-book related detritus, tchotchkes, sparkly twinkly things, sidelines instead of gifts, as many of my esteemed colleagues insist on calling all things?” When it comes to the pressures of running an independent bookstore during the holidays, Lucy Kogler at The Literary Hub gets it very right. Our own Janet Potter has waxed poetic about bookstores, as well.
According to a recent survey, Danes are the happiest people in the world. This came as a surprise, writes Mathilde Walter Clark, to most of her fellow Scandinavians, who know very well the unhappier elements of their daily lives. The problem, she suggests, is that words like “happiness,” “ambition” and “contentment” have subtly different meanings in different languages — in other words, happiness in Denmark isn’t the same thing as happiness in America. You could also read our own Emily St. John Mandel’s review of the Danish writer Jonas T. Bengtsson’s A Fairy Tale.
In The Guardian, Year in Reading alum Joshua Ferris writes a tribute to the novelist Jim Shepard, who taught him at UC Irvine when Ferris was a student there in the early aughts. Ferris makes a case that Shepard single-handedly settles a modern debate: “A lot of critics dislike the professionalisation of creative writing. They have never had Shepard in a workshop.”