Enlightenment comes in many guises, and though we usually think of it as arriving in a koi pond or a distant mountaintop, we can also find it, as the protagonist of Year in Reading alum Tom McCarthy’s new novel attempts to do, on Staten Island. In The New Republic, David Marcus reads the book.
Anwen Crawford reflects on newly published letters from Sylvia Plath; “The belief among many of Plath’s devotees seems to be that if we can get clear of other people’s fingerprints on her texts, allowing Plath to ‘fully narrate her own autobiography,’ as the editors here describe it, we will at last solve the riddle of her. The extremities of her poetry will balance against the circumstances of her life; the latter will equal the former. But her griefs were ordinary; it is what she did with them that wasn’t. Plath turned her common sorrows—dead father, mental illness, cheating husband—into something like an origin story for pain itself, as if her own pain preceded the world.” In the New Yorker
The University of Texas, Austin, is opening its acquired manuscripts of David Foster Wallace’s private papers, books, stories, and essays to the public. Previews of Wallace’s marked-up copies of books by DeLillo, Borges, and Updike are available on its website. (via New York Times)
After his death, fans of David Foster Wallace canonized him as a prophet, according him a degree of benevolence shared by almost no one in American letters. In New York Magazine, Christian Lorentzen argues that Wallace himself worried about this happening, and says he’d “probably be the last person to argue for his sainthood.” His essay pairs nicely with Jonathan Russell Clark on The David Foster Wallace Reader.
Out this week: Sour Heart by Jenny Zhang; Mrs. Fletcher by Tom Perrotta; The Seventh Function of Language by Laurent Binet; New People by Danzy Senna; Gravel Heart by Abdulrazak Gurnah; and White Plains by Gordon Lish. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.