If you know that Patricia Highsmith wrote The Talented Mr. Ripley, you know that she’s an exceptional authority on the workings of the criminal mind. At The Paris Review Daily, Dan Piepenbring digs up an old interview with the author, in which she describes the act of murder as “the opposite of freedom.” You could also read Tana French on Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train.
Slate books and culture columnist Laura Miller looks at what this year’s bestseller list tells us about 2017. One of her conclusions, “2017 was the year that the very concept of a best-seller became even more dubious.” After reading her analysis, check out our Year in Reading lists, whose authors found joy in reading and viewed it as one of the few good things of this year, even if the bestsellers of the year didn’t reflect those feelings.
“The literature by Vietnamese and Vietnamese-Americans is out there for anyone who knows how to use Google. But so many here and abroad would rather not know, or when a new Vietnamese author is published, would prefer to say, ‘At last! A voice for the Vietnamese!’ In fact, there are so many voices, for the Vietnamese people are very loud.” Pulitzer Prize winner and Year in Reading alumnus Viet Thanh Nguyen (The Sympathizer) writes in The New York Times about the diversity of Vietnamese writing, too often ignored in favor of war narratives and the voices of American veterans. (For an incredible syllabus of books to fill in the gaps, see the middle of his piece.)
“The Boardwalk’s kitsch, the kitsch of Trump’s former properties along the Boardwalk, merely reinforce how retro a mogul the candidate is: a throwback who doesn’t care he’s a throwback, who’s barely aware he is, dressed to impress in a padded Brioni suit and a tie with a scrotum-sized knot.” Novelist Joshua Cohen takes one last trip (maybe?) to the Atlantic City of his youth for n+1. Related: Turns out Cohen’s not the only novelist who’s worked as a casino dealer.
Longtime writers know how hard it can be to tell when a piece is finished. Tolstoy famously tried to revise War and Peace right up to the book’s publication. At the Ploughshares blog, Amy Jo Burns offers tips for evaluating a piece before deciding to give it to someone else.