“The story that Lee’s book tells (or tries to tell, because much evidence has been obscured or lost) is not about patience on a monument but about talent buried under a heavy plinth, and discovered only just in time—the late achievement less a measured distillation than a lifesaving decoction.” James Wood reviews Hermione Lee‘s new biography of novelist Penelope Fitzgerald for The New Yorker. Pair with Niamh Ni Mhaoileoin‘s Millions essay on the new age of biography.
He’s the world’s most wanted fugitive, yet somehow the man wearing the red-striped shirt and nerd glasses escaped us until now. Yes, we’re talking about Where’s Waldo? At Slate, Ben Blatt found Waldo’s pattern, so you can spot him every time and impress your relatives this holiday season.
“Hoaxers make it seem like things are as bad as we fear they are, and they often, especially now, play on our fears rather than our wishes.” The Rumpus interviewed New Yorker Poetry Editor Kevin Young about the inspiration behind his new book, Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News. Pair with Young’s Year in Reading entry and our review of Bunk.
“Avoid using the term generically and without definition, however, because it is not well known and the term may exist primarily as a public-relations device to make its supporters’ actual beliefs less clear and more acceptable to a broader audience. In the past we have called such beliefs racist, neo-Nazi or white supremacist.” The Associated Press addresses the term “alt-right.”
The 2016 election will never truly end, at least not in the literary world. Buzzfeed noted that “a series of recent campaign books have enjoyed monster debuts, demonstrating a voracious reader appetite for behind-the-scenes looks at one of the most surprising elections in history”. And before you think this trend will end any time soon, Buzzfeed lists some up and coming titles that will be published later this year or sometime next year. “The success of campaign books come during a tough period for the publishing world, where industry sources have described the difficulty of getting authors on television or attracting media attention in a frenzied environment focused on Trump.” We’re all about the publishing industry doing well but this seems like a slightly unhealthy obsession for both readers and publishers.
There’s been a lot of talk recently about the possibilities for contemporary war literature, especially in light of the success of Phil Klay‘s Redeployment. Now Flavorwire considers “a crop of fiction that approaches the question of American intelligence, torture, and military intervention slantwise,” particularly Mark Doten’s The Infernal, which was included in our 2015 Book Preview.
Lots of writers have stories about creative writing classes that changed their lives. The remembrance of the pivotal class is a mini-genre in itself. At The Rumpus, Warren Adler writes about his own life-changing experience, looking back on a class he took at the New School all the way back in 1949.