“The Laughing Monsters is, ultimately, about reality, myth, and outright lies. Johnson has always been interested in those moments when the thin skin of the world breaks and we are ushered, unprepared, into another realm.” Stav Sherez reviews Denis Johnson‘s The Laughing Monsters (which we listed in our Second-Half 2014 book preview) and considers the modern spy thriller for the Los Angeles Review of Books.
“In the twenty-first century, the lyric essay at its worst is a utility or an app; at its best, it’s a cross-hatch of a genre in which things cross over; implicitly chiasmic, it’s a space in which incompatible discourses are allowed to intermingle; wherein poetry and prose create productive frictions, enabling a new, unnatural form, illegible and readable for the first time.” Mary Cappello writes about the lyric essay and Djuna Barnes.
Boris is coming to the big screen. Nina Jacobson, the producer behind The Hunger Games, has acquired the rights to adapt Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch. Whether it will be a film or TV miniseries is still up for question, but if the actors need any help getting into character, check out our essay on identifying with Theo and learn how to tweet like Boris.
“Chekhov’s contemporaries wondered: What sort of Russian writer was he? He had no solution to the ultimate questions. With no ‘general idea’ to teach, wasn’t he more like a talented Frenchman or Englishman born in the wrong place?” (And our own Sonya Chung argues that personal character was in fact his “general idea.”)
Year in Reading alumna Ottessa Moshfegh has a new story in this week’s issue of the New Yorker, titled “The Beach Boy.” Moshfegh also spoke with Deborah Treisman about her writing: “Isn’t it hilarious when people are blind to their own arrogance? For some, no amount of American liberal-arts education, charitable contributions, or hours spent listening to NPR will ever wake them up to their own privileged, bigoted, and classist attitudes. […] One might say that New Yorkers like the folks in ‘The Beach Boy’ are especially susceptible to the kind of stupidity I love to write about—the stupidity of entitlement.”