“If Gothic literature had a family tree, its twisted gnarled branches chock-full of imperiled, swooning heroines and mysterious monks, with ghosts who sit light on the branches, and Frankenstein’s monster who sits heavy, with troops of dwarves, and winking nuns, and stunted, mostly nonflammable babies, at its base would sit Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto.” Carrie Frye writes for Longreads about the history and personality behind the first Gothic novel, which turns 250 this year.
Over at The Paris Review, Hannah Tennant-Moore defends the merits of disturbing literature. We are fascinated with the disturbing, because, as Tennant-Moore asserts, “wonder, disgust: both feelings are true.” Here’s a bonus piece on A.M. Homes‘ darkly comic May We Be Forgiven and on comforting the disturbed — or is it disturbing the comforted?
New this week: All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld; In the Course of Human Events by Mike Harvkey; Casebook by Mona Simpson; The Other Story by Tatiana de Rosnay; Vernon Downs by Jaime Clarke; and Labor Day: True Birth Stories by Today’s Best Women Writers, edited by Eleanor Henderson and Anna Solomon. For more on these titles and other new releases, check out our Great 2014 Book Preview.
Anne Carson has a new story in this week’s issue of The New Yorker, about swimming and its discontents. As she puts it, “People think swimming is carefree and effortless. A bath! In fact, it is full of anxieties.” Pair with her first published short story in the January issue of Harper’s.