Is death “in” as a topic? It may seem like a ridiculous idea, but Lorraine Berry has evidence to back it up. She argues, using Benjamin Johncock’s The Last Pilot, among others, as proof, that mourning and grief are enjoying a bit of a renaissance.
Writing a novel is an all-consuming project, so can you imagine not telling anyone? At The New York Times, Alice Mattison discusses keeping her novels secrets until at least the third draft. "If I talk about the book, I believe — I cannot help believing — my characters will be angry, and will no longer confide in me about their embarrassing, troubled lives." On another side of the secrecy spectrum, Emma Straub writes about what it's like to keep a personal secret even as her literary life was booming.
“Tracing the journey of a mediocre actor and Holocaust survivor ‘touched by some mysterious higher design’ as he forges and impersonates his way through the war and then back to the city of his birth, the story is part Samuel Beckett and part Isaac Bashevis Singer, with a sudden final bolt of O. Henry. It has the flavour of a morality tale, but what’s most fascinating to me is how difficult it is to derive a moral from it, or rather how easy it is to derive more than one and how openly they stand in conflict with each other.” Kevin Brockmeier extols the fiction of Leandro Sarmatz.
“Ocean Vuong is that rare architect of accommodation, giving the most precarious situations or embarrassing of grievances of our culture a sound environment in which they can thrive. As he kisses and tucks the parents in their beds, he sets out from the wreckage of his past towards a hard-won horizon of blunder and wonderment.” Jeff Nguyen reviews Vuong’s newest poetry collection, Night Sky With Exit Wounds.
One Romanian woman may have committed “a barbarian crime against humanity” by incinerating a collection of seven famous paintings – including Picasso’s “Harlequin Head,” Monet’s “Waterloo Bridge, London,” and Gauguin’s “Girl in Front of Open Window.” Her excuse? It was in order to protect her son – a skilled art thief – from prosecution.
It's a big season for Zadie Smith. While most of us eagerly await the publication of her latest book, NW, the author's earlier work, On Beauty, is set to become a feature film. Smith's first book to be dramatized on film was White Teeth, a UK mini-series from 2002 based on her book of the same name. (And available online if you have Hulu Plus.)