Jane Austen is a rare figure. Acclaimed as one of the most brilliant authors in modern history, she has a popularity that few of her peers can match, as evidenced by her posthumous sales and huge numbers of dedicated fans. How did her work hit the sweet spot of broad appeal and scholarly fame? In the WSJ, Alexander McCall Smith provides a theory. (h/t The Paris Review Daily)
Year in Reading Alum Alexander Chee reviews Rick Moody’s latest release, Hotels of North America. “The present is too cruel for him, and yet he cannot change it, so there is this instead, sentence by sentence, a nod to the past that is really a nod to his own past. A conflation of his nostalgia for the days of his sexual attractiveness and the unencumbered power of white men, all of it dressed up as a love for old words.” To hear more from Moody, check out our recent interview with him.
“We find ourselves in a swarm of fellow starstruck souls outside the Sheraton Hotel on Seventh Avenue in Manhattan, churning, squirming.” 25 years after the publication of Bonfire of the Vanities, Tom Wolfe returns to the subject of Wall Street. You can also check out my review of his most recent novel, Back to Blood, over here.
If you didn’t make it to BEA this year, first be thankful that you didn’t have to eat any of the food around the Javits Center. Then, check out some of the highlights from the comfort of your desk chair. I recommend Ami Greko and Ryan Chapman’s perennially excellent 7x20x21 panel, which this year featured Nate Silver, Dan Wilbur, and Sheila Heti among others.
Sara Davidson’s Joan: Forty Years of Life, Loss, and Friendship with Joan Didion is an intimate portrait of one of America’s most revered and private writers.
“The more you take, the more you have to give back — the better the work has to be.” The New York Times features Year in Reading alum Rivka Galchen in dialogue with Anna Holmes (“You can’t always prove appropriation, but you usually know it when you see it”) on the distinction between artistic license and cultural theft. Pair with our review of Galchen’s Little Labors.