Year in Reading Alum Alexander Chee reviews Rick Moody’s latest release, Hotels of North America. “The present is too cruel for him, and yet he cannot change it, so there is this instead, sentence by sentence, a nod to the past that is really a nod to his own past. A conflation of his nostalgia for the days of his sexual attractiveness and the unencumbered power of white men, all of it dressed up as a love for old words.” To hear more from Moody, check out our recent interview with him.
Nemesis, the latest from Philip Roth is now out. Other new fiction this week includes Nicole Krauss’ Great House and Myla Goldberg’s The False Friend. In non-fiction, Steven Johnson takes on a thought-provoking topic with Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation. Also new are Ron Chernow’s massive biography of George Washington and a new book from Bill Bryson, At Home: A Short History of Private Life.
“APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding/Lilacs out of the dead land,/we’re graduating in may/do we seriously still have to do the reading/theres like three weeks left you cant be serious.” You know T.S. Eliot’s “The Wasteland,” but have you read Mallory Ortberg’s “The Teenage Wasteland” at The Toast?
Riffing on R&B singer Ernie K-Doe’s one-time statement, Chris Rose writes in the Oxford American, “I’m almost positive that all music, at least all American music, comes from Louisiana.” The essay appears in this year’s OA Southern Music Issue, a reliably excellent source of tunes and writing. Indeed, as Dwight Garner put it in The New York Times, the CDs that accompany each annual issue “practically belong in the Smithsonian.”
The term “academic writing” is controversial, not least because it implies that academics have an odd and persnickety way of writing. In a blog post for The New Yorker, Joshua Rothman examines the genre, looking back on his time in grad school to argue that academic writing is a “fraught and mysterious thing.”