If his new novel Against the Country is any indication, Ben Metcalf gets his best inspiration from the worst of rural America. In the book, which features a panoply of awful crimes and obscenities, Metcalf rides roughshod over the notion of the rural idyll. In Bookforum, onetime Millions staffer Emily Colette Wilkinson reviews the novel, calling it “a gut-busting knee slapper” in spite of its glut of macabre scenes.
Curious what the Obamas will be reading over Christmas? The Scrutinizer in Chief stopped by Upshur Books in Washington, D.C. on Small Business Saturday to selected a nice little haul for the winter break with titles ranging from Jonathan Franzen’s Purity to Rachel Renée Russell’s Dork Diaries 1: Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous Life.
HTMLGiant is running a cool series of interviews with readers who recently finished long or difficult books. Check out their takes on Lee Child’s Echo Burning, David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, and William Gaddis’s The Recognitions over here, here, and here, respectively. Also, while on the topic of difficult books, check out Emily Colette Wilkinson and Garth Risk Hallberg’s round-up of their ten top picks.
“If you didn’t feel you were discovering something as you wrote your memoir, don’t publish it. Instead hit the delete key, and then go congratulate yourself for having lived a perfectly good, undistinguished life. There’s no shame in that.” Neil Genzlinger at the New York Times lays some ground rules for those compelled to write memoirs.