Azar Nafisi thinks the best way to pin down a culture is to take a look at its canonical works of literature. In The Republic of Imagination, as Adam Begley details in a review in the Times Literary Supplement, she examines a few of America’s classic novels, including Babbitt, Huck Finn and The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. You could also read Jonathan Russell Clark’s review of the book for The Millions.
“After ten years of painting, that is to say ten years of using an abstract, invented language, writing stories was the closest I had come to working in the realm of ‘realism.’ It was the most direct I had ever been in my art. Perhaps the most direct I had ever been. But, as I learned from the comments of my peers in workshop (‘this isn’t a story,’ ‘this is poetry,’ ‘what is this’), my writing was something other than what we referred to as literary realism. By which I mean, the writing many have come to believe most accurately represents life.” Susan Steinberg asks what happened to American experimental writing.
“I bet you can relate. Always another crisis, always more costs to keep down. It’s hard to find time for yourself, you know? But the president of the United States should be able to read a book when he wants to. Or at least look at one. Maybe I could just look at this book for a while.”
To celebrate the release of Curiosity and Method: Ten Years of Cabinet Magazine, the Cabinet editors put their own magazine on trial, filling up an NYPL auditorium with academics and writers who, perhaps inevitably, began to compete in a kind of irrelevance-off. Which begs the question, answered well by The New Yorker’s Sasha Frere-Jones in Bookforum: how relevant to the wider culture is a magazine like Cabinet, anyway?
Considering his first novel was a chronicle of gang life in the Bronx, it makes sense that the new book by Richard Price is a tale of the NYPD. In the latest issue of The New Yorker, Joyce Carol Oates reads the novel, remarking that it “retains a residue of Price’s absorption with his rough urban settings and with the phenomenon of a particular sort of masculinity.” Related: our own Garth Risk Hallberg on Price and his crime fiction contemporaries.