Recommended Reading: Justin Taylor on Sam Lipsyte’s The Fun Parts and how “attention to language at the molecular level” creates a better experience reading and writing. Pair with our review of Taylor’s Everything Here Is the Best Thing Ever.
What is deracination, and why is it key to understanding American fiction? In her novel Housekeeping, Pulitzer laureate Marilynne Robinson defines it as “the free appreciation of whatever comes under one’s eye,” inspired by the Western sentiment of “feeling no tie of particularity to any single past or history.” In the Boston Review, Jess Row states that deracination is “a long-lived and nearly universal trope in white American literature,” claiming it represents “an American ideal: not to strip from the roots, but to de-race oneself.”
“We live in the age of opinion — offered instantly, effusively and in increasingly strident tones. Much of it goes by the name of criticism, and in the most superficial sense this is accurate.” The New York Times approached six accomplished critics, Stephen Burns, Katie Roiphe, Pankaj Mishra, Adam Kirsch, Sam Anderson, and Elif Batuman to explain, in the spirit of Alfred Kazin, “what it is they do, why they do it and why it matters.”
Last February, everyone was talking about Lawrence Wright‘s epic New Yorker profile of Paul Haggis and The Church of Scientology. But now, as The New York Times reports, the Church has released Freedom, a 51-page retaliatory glossy with DVD accompaniment.
“It’s not often that I find myself brandishing my copy and yelling, ‘This book.This book! at my husband, but I had that pleasant, awed, envy-inducing reaction.” We obviously love a good end-of-year reading roundup, and BOMB Magazine has “Looking Back on 2016” with entries from Jonathan Lethem, Will Chancellor, and other artists, writers, musicians, and filmmakers.