“Gobble a lot of fiction very quickly and you soon find yourself suffering from the literary equivalent of a food intolerance. Oh no, you think, not another novel about X or Y. At these moments, only one thing keeps you going: the faint hope that the book in question might turn out to be the greatest novel ever written about X or Y.” Rachel Cooke writes for The Guardian about reading 80 books in four months and the process of judging the Folio prize.
Lev Grossman offers some first thoughts on Every Love Story is a Ghost Story, the David Foster Wallace biography written by D.T. Max due out in September. More interestingly, Grossman wonders whether we’re nearing the death of hysterical realism, that manic, maximalist genre James Wood defined in his review of Zadie Smith’s White Teeth.
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.
Now that Louise Erdrich has won the National Book Award, it’s worth looking back on her interviews from recent years. You can read her piece in the Art of Fiction series, published in 2010 in The Paris Review; you could try her interview with the Times from back in October; or else you could take a look at her sit-down with The New Yorker in April. (This probably goes without saying, but you could also just read her new novel.)