Recommended Reading: Can desire thrive without freedom? On the works of Margaret Atwood and Michel Houellebecq in The Atlantic. Our essay on Atwood’s vision of the future and review of Ben Jeffery’s Anti-Matter: Michel Houellebecq and Depressive Realism pair nicely.
Peg Plunkett was an 18th-century Dublin courtesan who decided one day to make some money by publishing a series of memoirs. Now, over two hundred years after Plunkett sketched out her life story, Professor Julie Peakman has rewritten all three volumes for a modern audience. In a piece for The New Statesman, Sarah Dunant reviews her edition of Plunkett’s oeuvre.
Following the example of Flaubert, whose Dictionary of Received Ideas compiled the clichés of its day, Teju Cole set out on Monday to record his own clichés on Twitter. At Page-Turner, he sums up his experiment in a blog post. (You may recall that this is not the first time Cole has won acclaim for his Twitter account.)
Edmond Caldwell, a longtime Millions commenter and member of the golden age of lit blogging, has passed away. Caldwell was the founder of The Chagall Position and Contra James Wood. Read a tribute to Caldwell by his friends Boyd Nielson and Joseph G. Ramsey at Dispatches, here.
This week in the New Yorker Jane Hu analyzes the “dispassionate first-person narrators” prominent in works by English-speaking Asian authors and questions whether that makes it easier to identify with the narrator. She uses Chemistry by NBA 5 under 35 honoree Weike Wang as an example along with other recent works. “Against this tradition, there is, perhaps, another emerging, of Asian-Anglophone writers who both play with and thus begin to undo these tropes of Asian impersonality. The novels by Ishiguro, Park, Lin, and Wang all feature first-person narrators who keep their distance—actively denying readers direct interior access. This is true, it’s important to note, even when the characters they write are not themselves Asian.”