“Grief doesn’t only disturb life; it disturbs the way we talk about life. As myriad aspects of our existence are questioned and reexamined in the wake of a death, so too is our relationship with the language we rely on for our grief’s expression.” This track-by-track take on Sufjan Stevens’s Carrie & Lowell from The Rumpus is really just a magnificent, emotive piece on elegy.
Out this week: The Burning Girl by Claire Messud; The Hidden Light of Northern Fires by Daren Wang; My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent; To Die in Spring by Ralf Rothmann; and All the Dirty Parts by Daniel Handler. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
John Jeremiah Sullivan has a new essay about animal consciousness – and specifically our understanding thereof – in Lapham’s Quarterly. This effort is more serious and decidedly less terrifying than Sullivan’s last essay about animal agency, “Violence of the Lambs.”
Another posthumously published Roberto Bolaño novel has arrived, The Third Reich. Time to update our Bolaño Syllabus again? Also posthumously published is Michael Crichton’s Micro, which was a third finished when he died and was completed using Crichton’s notes by Richard Preston. Also new this week is Stephen Sondheim’s Look, I Made a Hat: Collected Lyrics (1981-2011).
With the help of Our Final Hour author Martin Rees, Cambridge will soon open a Centre for the Study of Existential Risk. The Centre will investigate the threats posed by “artificial intelligence, climate change, nuclear war and rogue biotechnology.” To my ears, this sounds an awful lot like Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute, which was memorably depicted in John Jeremiah Sullivan’s “Violence of the Lambs.”
Speaking of France: whether or not you find him disagreeable, Michel Houellebecq is pretty much guaranteed to elicit an emotional response from readers. His new opinion piece in The New York Times is no different. Here’s a review of Houellebecq’s The Map and the Territory that refers to him as a “petty misanthrope.”