It’s been seventeen years since Judy Blume published a book for adult readers. Her latest, In the Unlikely Event, brings that streak to an end. In the Times, Caroline Leavitt reviews her new book, which depicts a small town in the fifties reeling in the wake of three consecutive plane crashes. FYI, our own Lydia Kiesling wrote an essay on Blume’s book Forever.
If your default mood hovers between melancholy and despair, you may be cheered (or at least made a bit less glum) by this argument that striving for happiness is bad for us in the long run. Mari Ruti makes the case that a “happy, balanced life” depends in large part on a kind of emotional numbness.
“An appeal for the revival of the negative book review, then, is a remonstration against forced and foppish praise, where everything is good and so nothing at all is good.” In The Baffler, Rafia Zakaria writes in praise of negative book reviews and decries the “enfeebling of literary criticism.” From our archives: our own Emily St. John Mandel writes about bad book reviews.
“Learning to really listen to it and learning to kind of embrace it, rather than running away from it, was a very useful thing to do,” says Hari Kunzru of the sounds of New York City’s streets. The sirens, horns, and arguments are the inspiration for his new “multimedia book,” Twice Upon a Time: Listening to New York. (Bonus: Kunzru has participated in our Year in Reading series two times in the past.)
New Herring Press is a Brooklyn/Portland publisher of prose chapbooks, and they’re likely the best new chapbook press you haven’t heard of yet. Volume II of their annual series features titles by Eileen Myles, Justin Torres, Amanda Davidson, and Sara Veglahn, with cover art by illustrator Jacob Magraw-Mickelson. NHP’s ultra-short backlist includes notable authors like Lynne Tillman and Deb Olin Unferth. Volume III is in the works, with authors and artist TBA soon. Check them out at newherringpress.tumblr.com.
Denmark has a new superstar, and he’s a poet named Yahya Hassan. At 18, Hassan has published a poetry collection that sold 100,000 copies in three months — a figure that, in Denmark, translates to one copy for every fifty residents. At the LARB, Pedja Jurisic delves into the young poet’s incendiary politics.
“Too vast for human comprehension, yet at the same time a tabula rasa for each fragile individual’s desires, it’s a classic example of the Romantic sublime, as mesmerising as it is deadly.” The Guardian reviews Year in Reading Alumnus Claire Vaye Watkins’s Gold Fame Citrus. Compare and contrast with our review of the novel.