If you’re not already a fan of Will Self, his new book, Shark, may not be the best place to start. As Walker Rutter-Bowman points out, the book dispatches with many of the conventions of modern writing, including line breaks, paragraphs and dialogue tags. But it’s still an effort worthy of its author, he writes: “Here is a hunk of modernism that poignantly, beautifully, and, it seems, genuinely renders mental states of sanity and insanity while smudging the gradations in between.”
"The notion that American literature might have an imperial bent—that it might be anything other than a string of lightly co-influential works of 'imaginative power,' and might itself reflect our national desire to dominate—is lost on its critics, both right and left." Jonathan Sturgeon in The Baffler on American exceptionalism and "the imperial self" in fiction, with particular attention paid to the work of two other Jonathans, Franzen and Safran Foer.
Recommended reading: a piece for The Toast "In Which Three Adults Discuss A Wrinkle in Time Seriously and At Length." Related: A Wrinkle in Time may finally become a (good) movie.
Out this week: The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante; Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg; Marvel and a Wonder by Joe Meno; The Hundred Year Flood by Matthew Salesses (who recently wrote for us); Dryland by Sara Jaffe; and Purity by Jonathan Franzen (which we reviewed). For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great Second-Half 2015 Book Preview.
“Perhaps I will just go underground and live a quiet life of desperation. I’ve heard mumblings about a place called ‘Social Media Manager.’ It seems like a nice place where all people my age go for a while. Just until things start to make sense again.” Nobody knows the throes of existential angst quite like a twenty-something. Here’s a plea for help from one such twenty-something over at McSweeney’s.
The Table 4 Writers Foundation was founded in memory of Elaine Kaufman, a larger-than-life literary personality and hostess who supported NYC writers at her restaurant for many years, and awards grants to promising writers for unpublished work. The 2014 winners have just been released, and their prizewinning work can be read online. There will also be a gala in honor of the winners on April 30 in NYC, and tickets can be purchased here.
My book, The Late American Novel: Writers on the Future of Books is out today (more on that here), and also out this week is Joshua Foer's (the latest of the Foer's to throw his hat in the authorial ring) Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything, buzzed about food memoir Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef, a new look at the modern world's most ubiquitous commodity James Gleick's The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood, Library of America boxing anthology At The Fights: American Writers on Boxing, Mat Johnson's Poe-inspired Pym, and Victoria Patterson's This Vacant Paradise. New in Paperback: Sam Lipsyte's The Ask and Chang-rae Lee's The Surrendered.
It’s been forty years since a burst of new critical attention gave Anthony Trollope a new life. What is it about him that makes his work enduringly relevant? In the latest New Yorker, Adam Gopnik argues that the author was a master of gossip. You could also read Sara Henary on the author’s two hundredth birthday.