The world isn’t exactly wanting for character studies of Captain Ahab, but Chris Power manages to come up with a novel analysis of the character in this essay about the Moby-Dick antagonist. In Power’s telling, Ahab was valuable in part for what he told us about the 20th century — namely, he foreshadowed the dictators and despots to come. You could also read Hester Blum’s contribution to this essay about the best American novels.
“For Groff, it is not that there’s a clearly delineated line between the universal and the particular, but rather that they are nested like Russian dolls: every story of the particular is also an iteration of the universal.” This review of Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies from 3:AM Magazine is great. Our interview with Groff from a few weeks ago makes a nice complementary read.
New releases this week include Keith Richard’s rock memoir Life, reviewed for The Millions by Jim Santel, Michael Caine’s The Elephant to Hollywood, an “unabashedly old-school celebrity memoir” according to its New York Times review, and Stephen Sondheim’s songwriting book Finishing the Hat.
The 2015 National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 Honorees have been announced! This year’s honorees are Angela Flournoy for The Turner House (our review here), Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi for Fra Keeler (our review here), Colin Barrett for Young Skins (which appeared in our most recent book preview), Tracy O’Neill for The Hopeful (you can read her Millions articles here and here), and Megan Kruse for Call Me Home. For all of the National Book Award longlists, check out our post.
Cookbooks, in general, are resistant to close reading, if only because their authors are barely present in the text, if at all. Yet sometimes we can discern a personality through the measurements and shopping lists. At Page-Turner, Kathleen Alcott reads the cookbooks of Nigel Slater. Pair with our own Hannah Gersen on reading cookbooks as literature.