“They’re pictures, not images; displays, not shots; illustrations, not compositions. They are respectful displays of performance—of the demonstrative theatrical antics into which Anderson lets his performers lapse.” Richard Brody on the film version of Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice.
Out this week: Silence Once Begun by Jesse Ball; Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill; This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash; The Last Enchantments by Millions contributor Charles Finch; My Life in Middlemarch by New Yorker staff writer (and Millions interviewee) Rebecca Mead; and Still Life with Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlen. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great 2014 Book Preview.
Recommended Reading: Blake Morrison on the literature of England's flood-prone east coast.
To give context to a new William Vollmann essay about reading his own FBI profile (available to subscribers only, sadly), Harper’s Magazine published a few pages from Vollmann’s file online. Among other things, they reveal that the FBI considered Vollman “exceedingly intelligent and possessed with an enormous ego." (For a taste of the Harper's essay, you can read this WaPo article on Vollmann's connection to the Unabomber.)
Robert A. Caro, who releases new installments of his Lyndon B. Johnson biography at a glacial pace, is apparently also working on another project, too. It’s “not a memoir, exactly,” he says, but it does concern “how he came to write the Johnson biography and its predecessor, The Power Broker.”
In the latest Baffler, Evgeny Morozov argues that Silicon Valley, in typical fashion, has taken to “hacking” our language. Old, trusted words don’t mean what they used to mean, and complex ideas have been stripped of subversive implications. “Complexity,” he writes, “is not particularly viral.”