Nabokov once described himself “as American as April in Arizona,” which is an odd thing to call yourself when you’re a lepidopterist Russian expat. In Nabokov in America, Robert Roper explores why Nabokov felt he was so American, and how his journey to that identity influenced his writing of Lolita. At The Literary Review, Ian Sansom reviews Roper’s book.
Congratulations to our own Garth Risk Hallberg, who was a finalist for the Nona A. Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing, awarded by the NBCC. Critic William Deresiewicz took home the prize. We wrote up the finalists in the fiction and non-fiction categories yesterday.
“By casting my book as personal rather than professional—by marketing me as a woman on a journey of self-discovery, rather than a reporter on a groundbreaking assignment—I was effectively being stripped of my expertise on the subject I knew best.” Suki Kim on writing a work of investigative journalism that was miscategorized as memoir. Pair with this Millions piece in defense of memoirs.
“Ms. Gitelman’s argument may seem like an odd lens on familiar history. But it’s representative of an emerging body of work that might be called 'paperwork studies.' True, there are not yet any dedicated journals or conferences. But in history, anthropology, literature and media studies departments and beyond, a group of loosely connected scholars are taking a fresh look at office memos, government documents and corporate records, not just for what they say but also for how they circulate and the sometimes unpredictable things they do.”
In his look ahead to interesting books coming out in 2011, Scott Esposito includes the book I co-edited, The Late American Novel: Writers on the Future of Books, which features pieces by Jonathan Lethem, Rivka Galchen, Benjamin Kunkel, and several other great writers and is due out in March.
Despair, debt, frustration, a decade in school rewarded with guaranteed joblessness. If this cocktail of woe sounds good to you, consider getting a Ph.D. in English, History, or any other humanities discipline. At the New York Times, yet another of the recent spate of articles explaining how utterly dismal the prospects of recent humanities Ph.D.s are.