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.”
Graywolf Press – the publisher behind Citizen, The Empathy Exams, The Argonauts, and On Immunity: An Inoculation – has built a reputation as “a scrappy little press that harnessed and to some extent generated a revolution in nonfiction, turning the previously unprepossessing genre of the ‘lyric essay’ into a major cultural force.” Over at Vulture, Boris Kachka writes about the history of one of the nation’s leading independent literary publishers.
By now the overlap between writers and drug addicts is pretty well-known, but it wasn’t so well-known back when Thomas De Quincey wrote Confessions of an English Opium Eater. In the essay, De Quincey admitted that not only was he addicted to opium, he suspected he’d ingested more of the substance than any other man save Coleridge. (Incidentally, we reviewed a novel by Year in Reading alumnus Jeet Thayil that largely took place in an opium den.)
“All of a sudden, things that should be banal, like a person’s face—the fact that a person has a face—becomes extremely disorienting. In these moments, I think it’s important to keep those strange commas.” In an illuminating interview for Asymptote, Year in Reading alumna Katrina Dodson talks about the thrills and challenges in translating The Complete Stories of Clarice Lispector. Pair with Magdalena Edwards’s Millions review of the collection.
Here are the first lines of the new Gary Shteyngart novel, Super Sad True Love Story, forthcoming in July: “Today I’ve made a major decision: I am never going to die. Others will die around me. They will be nullified. Nothing of their personality will remain. The light switch will be turned off.”
Baz Luhrmann’s much-delayed Great Gatsby film adaptation may justify its long post-production schedule after all. In an announcement this past week, it was made clear that Jay-Z is “composing the upcoming film’s original score.” The film’s latest trailer can be found here.
Last week, I wrote about Kathryn Schulz’s innovative interview with David Mitchell, which took place on a walk along the Irish coastline. Now, in a nice complement to our own review from today, Pico Iyer reviews the author’s latest. Sample quote: “A perfectly matter-of-fact, unvarnished evocation of how regular folks speak, married to a take-no-prisoners fascination with all that we can’t explain.” Our review of The Bone Clocks was published today.