“She didn’t even want to be anything. She just wanted to be able to sit in a room and not feel tortured by it, which is sort of the human condition in general. Eileen isn’t dreaming of leaving home and making it in the big city on Broadway. She just wants to go and eat a banana, you know?” Ottessa Moshfegh on her new novel, Eileen, for The Rumpus.
Amazon collected some of the funniest, top-voted reviews from customers on its website. “Occasionally customer creativity goes off the charts in the best possible way,” they said. Of course, there are also plenty of examples of customers going off the charts in the worst possible ways, too.
For the most part, Alexis de Tocqueville had good things to say about the young United States in his book Democracy in America, which is probably why we tend to forget that he thought Americans weren’t funny. What de Tocqueville missed, according to a new history of American humor, is the extent to which American funniness emerged from subversive groups of outsiders. In Bookforum, Ben Schwartz takes stock of the arguments in American Fun.
Hari Kunzru wonders whether the recent surge of attention for Hungarian novelist László Krasznahorkai makes him the latest talisman for the young New York literary elite. Regardless, it’s worth revisiting Paul Morton’s interview with Krasznahorkai and Adam Z. Levy’s review of his latest novel, Sátántangó.
Black Country, the debut book of poetry by Liz Berry, won this year’s Forward prize for best first collection. At The Guardian, Ben Wilkinson writes about the ways in which the book “digs deep into the poet’s West Midlands roots, enlivening and reimagining the heritage of that eponymous heartland of iron foundries, coal mines and steel mills, on both personal and public footings.”