New this week: Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights by Salman Rushdie; The Visiting Privilege by Joy Williams; The Lost Landscape by Joyce Carol Oates; This is Your Life, Harriet Chance! by Jonathan Evison; Cries for Help, Various by Padgett Powell; and Above the Waterfall by Ron Rash. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great Second-Half 2015 Book Preview.
The January issue of Asymptote is out, featuring an excellent interview with Year in Reading alumnus Junot Díaz about language acquisition and diasporic identity. As he puts it, “I live a life where both English and Spanish are in italics in my brain. It costs me no extra effort; it doesn’t feel unusual; it doesn’t feel like an infirmity, but it does strike me every now and then that there are people who don’t pick over their language the way I do, who aren’t so self-conscious of what they’re saying, who have a natural tongue.” Pair with Thea Lim’s Millions essay on race and gender in Díaz’s books.
“Home is the place where there is someone who does not wish you any pain.” Stop what you’re doing and go read this interview with Darryl Pinckney, author of Black Deutschland, over at The Rumpus. Here’s a great Millions essay on Christopher Isherwood’s Berlin Stories, which serves as a sort of (misguided) guide map for the protagonist of Black Deutschland.
If you thought Michel Houellebecq was controversial, let me direct your attention to Kenneth Goldsmith. In this piece, the poet that everyone loves to hate asserts his desire “to take Walter Benjamin off the pedestal and on to the coffee table.” His newest, Capital, is out now.
“Yes, he cheated, he cracked up, he was irresponsible and even cruel in the way he marshaled his life for his art. Lowell nonetheless believed that women were his intellectual and artistic equals. He spent most of his life behaving accordingly even as he treated his wives and mistresses so terribly, in romantic terms, that it was almost operatic. That is the puzzle of Robert Lowell and women.” It’s not quite Valentine’s Day yet, but this piece on the inarguably tumultuous relationship between Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Hardwick is sure to make you feel something.