Last week, I pointed readers to an article about Michael Faber’s latest book and his decision to quit writing fiction. Now, in the Times Book Review, Marcel Theroux sizes up the novel, writing that “the reader is drawn through the book effortlessly, by the combination of incidental strangeness and the suspenseful handling of plot.”
"Maybe our anointed literary books just have to be earnest ones because earnest ones showcase that soupçon of intelligence. Maybe humor isn’t felt to indicate a genuine commitment to looking smart." Year in Reading alum Lydia Millet talks with Jenny Offill about humor writing, what books are "anointed" as modern classics, and Millet's new book, Mermaids in Paradise.
Nonfiction writing might work wonders for history books, but the heart of the genre is still the essay. In a piece for The Morning News Martin Connelly discusses his youthful resolution to be an essayist, which he quickly forgot and then gradually remembered. There are also ironic license plates, convicts and a baby, just to jazz everything up a little bit.
Why do the British tell the best children’s stories? Perhaps because their culture has remained in touch with its pagan folklore, whereas in the United States, more pragmatic tales of morality, Christian obedience, and bootstrap-lifting rose to prominence. Also, picture books: general good thing for children or roadmap to total the moral collapse of society?
In 2004, much of the literary world celebrated the hundredth anniversary of Bloomsday, aka the setting of James Joyce’s Ulysses. This year, we’re celebrating the hundredth anniversary of Dubliners, which our own Mark O’Connell once described as “a collection which writers of the short story form seem basically resigned to never surpassing.” At The Paris Review Daily, Skippy Dies author Paul Murray writes about his history with the book. You could also try to pass our eccentric James Joyce quiz.
Folks who’ve read Mark O’Connell’s Epic Fail (excerpt) may have a perverse curiosity concerning Amanda McKittrick Ros. Widely considered to be one of the worst authors ever to write, McKittrick Ros’s infamous 1887 novel Iddesleigh is available for free download.