“In spite of herself, the writer has remained loyal. She is loyal to place and the past, faithfully and perpetually reconstructing it, so that no one, having read her, would ever again say, ‘What’s so interesting about small-town rural Canada?’” On a new book of selected stories by Alice Munro.
A new laureateship award worth €150,000 was created by Ireland’s Arts Council in conjunction with University College Dublin and New York University. The award will be given to “an outstanding Irish writer of fiction” with hopes that the author will “promote [Irish] literature around the world” and “inspire the public to engage with the best Irish fiction.” The first appointment will be made in 2014.
Geoff Dyer, lately everybody’s favorite literary critic, reviews The Stranger’s Child, and tells us why Alan Hollinghurst, “the gay novelist, might also be the best straight novelist that Britain has to offer.” Hear, hear!
New this week is Jonathan Evison’s West of Here, Joyce Carol Oates’ memoir A Widow’s Story about the death of her husband (this was the source of her recent, quite moving essay in the New Yorker), and the expanded rerelease of Alexander Theroux’s The Strange Case of Edward Gorey. Also new on shelves from NYRB Classics is Irretrievable by Theodor Fontane, with an introduction by Phillip Lopate, who discussed Fontane in our Year in Reading in December.
Somewhere along the way, the word “cool” became “the most popular slang term of approval in English.” Humanities has a pretty cool (hip, rad, dope, groovy, punk, hot, sweet) theory, tracing it as far back as Zora Neale Hurston’s collection Mules and Men, and the time when “cool was black… cool was jazz.” (Related reading: the most excellent Hepster’s Dictionary (pdf) of 1939 jive talk, and our own history of the slang word “like.”)