In the past ten years, we’ve seen many attempts to construct a taxonomy of the hipster, which is why it’s refreshing to come across a novel account of the term’s origins. At The Atlantic, Karen Swallow Prior makes a convincing case that T.S. Eliot, in The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, invented the “cuffed-trouser urbanite on the hunt for authenticity.”
New this week is Marilynne Robinson's collection of essays When I Was a Child I Read Books. Also out are Arcadia by Lauren Groff, The Vanishers by Heidi Julavits, and The Reconstructionist by Nick Arvin. Finally, the collected writings of the late and beloved critic John Leonard, Reading for My Life, is now out.
Kirk Curnutt takes readers on a tour of of F. Scott Fitzgerald's oft-neglected commercial short fiction. Fitzgerald, after all, "produced 160 short stories [in his life]," writes Curnutt, "earning a total of $241,453 off the genre -- more than $3 million in today's dollars." Yet the author didn't think highly of the work, and even referred to himself as an "old whore" because he wouldn't quit.
“'This splendid lady sandbagged me,' Bloom said in a recent phone conversation, with the lofty, ungrudging admiration of an old general recalling an opposite number’s surprise attack at some long-ago battle. Flummoxed, he asked if they had not made an agreement. Ozick, Bloom recollects, said, 'When you are dealing with the devil, you must be prepared to do anything!'" This New York Times Magazine profile of Cynthia Ozick makes it clear that, at 88, she shows no signs of slowing down.
"There are people who believe that readers and writers—at least the right kind of readers and writers—are special snowflakes, existing on a more exalted plane than mere mortals. Book people are educated. They are privileged. They are brave enough to speak out when the emperor shows up naked. They sup on nectar from flowers grown on the sunny slopes of Mount Olympus, harvested by chiton-wearing MFA candidates." Jennifer Weiner responds to bad Amazon reviews, book blogs, and elitist " book people" in an essay for The New Republic. We especially enjoy the line about the chitons.