In spite of the title of her blog post, Lily Meyer doesn’t think Ann Patchett is really an enemy of Zadie Smith. Instead, she thinks the two authors play opposing roles in her life, thanks largely to the different effects their books have on her perceptions. At the Ploughshares blog, she contrasts their novels, using excerpts from White Teeth and Bel Canto. Related: Kevin Charles Redmon’s review of Patchett’s novel State of Wonder.
Don’t Cry author Mary Gaitskill reviews Gillian Flynn’s wildly successful thriller, Gone Girl, for the pages of Bookforum. What she finds is that the book isn’t really frightening because of its plot per se, but rather because its two main characters “do not resemble actual people so much as grotesquely smiling masks driven by forces of extreme artifice, and it’s exactly that extreme artificial quality that’s frightening to the point of sickening.” For what it’s worth, Edan Lepucki, Michael Bourne, Ed Park, Janet Potter, and Jennifer duBois each named Flynn’s book in their most recent Year in Reading pieces.
Emily Dickinson didn’t get out much, so why should we have to in order to read her work? Her open access manuscripts, letters, and envelope scribbles are now available online in the Emily Dickinson Archive. But now there’s controversy over who is the rightful owner of her manuscripts and who should shape the archives — Harvard or Amherst?
Eleanor Catton has been getting a lot of press for being the youngest author ever to win the Man Booker prize, but she claims that the new fame is a mixed blessing that often brings up sexism. “In my experience, and that of a lot of other women writers, all of the questions coming at them from interviewers tend to be about how lucky they are to be where they are – about luck and identity and how the idea struck them,” she told The Guardian.
This year is all about #readwomen2014 and #weneeddiversebooks. Faint Promise of Rain, the debut novel from Anjali Mittar Duva, satisfies all these criteria. The book is just out from SheWrites press and is set in the turbulent, caste-driven setting of the Mughal empire. Read an excerpt over at Bloom.