What happened to the literature of clothing? Writers like Balzac and Proust wrote philosophies of clothing, but nowadays there seems to be a wall between literary writing and fashion. In Public Books, Mary Davis reads Women in Clothes, a collection which reveals a lot about how much our views of fashion writing have changed. FYI, Rachel Signer reviewed the book for The Millions.
In 1979, William Gaddis taught a course at Bard College on “The Literature of Failure,” examining works that somehow focused on personal failure or insufficiency. These included, among other books, Joan Didion’s Play It as It Lays, as well as Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. In Bookforum, Casey Michael Henry takes on a related genre: the literature of obsolescence. You could also read James Cappio on meeting Gaddis in person.
“It’s easy to attribute genius to a dead man, a legendary philanderer, liar and self-mythologizer who died beautiful and curly-haired. But ‘What About This’ is an authentic outpouring like a warm river in full flood; you get swept off the bank and its languid physicality destroys you.” On Frank Stanford’s Collected Poems.
Expats of all stripes have trouble defining the word “home,” which is true even when the expat is someone like James Wood, who left England for America in the ‘90s and set up a life for himself in Massachusetts. In the LRB, he describes the odd pain of emigration, lamenting that his “English reality” has faded into memory. (You could also read Charles Finch on trying to live up to Wood’s standards.)