“Andre Dubus’s literary superpower is to hit upon that one thing about a character that makes him him, or her her. And in so doing, with subtle, clever details—breadcrumbs on the trail to the nucleus of a character—he makes a reader want to keep going, because she knows exactly who these people are and has to know what happens to them.” On the Selected Stories of Andre Dubus.
The Daily Beast interviews Tom Wolfe, who argues that America, more than two decades after The Bonfire of the Vanities, is a place where people “cannot act as if they are part of a superior class.” (For context, you might want to look at our own Nick Moran’s review of his latest, Back to Blood.)
Kevin Courier is re-running interviews he did for the CBC in the 1980s on the Critics At Large site. Here’s his 1986 interview with Barbara Brenden, author of The Passion of Ayn Rand. Brenden’s book, Courier writes, “not only unveiled this polarizing figure” of Ayn Rand, but it “also illustrated the perils of blind faith and idolatry.” Given the Objectivist’s influence on a certain vice presidential candidate, this one’s worth a read.
One consequence of creating a beloved show is that you’ve got to deal with superficial paeans to it. David Simon has to know this, but he still seems cranky in this interview. Of course I’m not saying he can’t be chagrined by Grantland or Vulture’s recent TV brackets (which Simon singled out in subsequent remarks), but when he says he’s “it’s wearying” for people “to be picking [The Wire] apart now like it’s a deck of cards or like they were there the whole time or they understood it the whole time,” it’s a bit harder to take his side, and you feel like he hasn’t watched Erlend Lavik’s sophisticated and thorough video essay about The Wire‘s visual style. Surely analyses like this (or Žižek‘s, which we’ve mentioned before) deserve due credit.
“Motherhood has always been contested terrain, but for the last decade or so it’s been a virtual battleground; every year, almost like clockwork, we have another flare-up in the so-called Mommy Wars, with another Tiger Mom or Get-Back-To-Work-er or Can’t Have It all-er launching a grenade as prelude to a book tour. And as much as I have an obvious stake in these battles as a mother and a feminist, I’ve come to find them depressingly repetitive, all sound and fury but offering little in terms of the policies that might actually affect our decisions.” At the LARB, Stephanie Bower gives her take on Why Have Kids?, Jessica Valenti’s new treatise on parenting.
Print out your playing cards and start sifting through the comment sections of negative book reviews. It’s a new game called “bad review bingo.” (inspired in part by the frothy commenters to our own Janet Potter’s blistering review of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy.)
“Language starts to shut down the strength and power and strangeness of what it means to be a person in the world.” At The Rumpus, Ben Marcus discusses how he uses language in his writing and his new short story collection, Leaving the Sea (featured in our 2014 book preview.) Pair with: Our own Adam Boretz’s interview with Marcus and our review of The Flame Alphabet.