“I have come to realize how much I have, throughout my life, bought into the narrative of this alluring myth of personal responsibility and excellence. I realize how much I believe that all good things will come if I—if we—just work hard enough.” Year in Reading alum Roxane Gay writes for VQR Online about “The Price of Black Ambition.” Pair with our review of An Untamed State.
Out this week: The Throwback Special by Chris Bachelder; Burning Down the House by Jane Mendelsohn; Stork Mountain by Miroslav Penkov; Shelter by Jung Yun; Margaret the First by Danielle Dutton; and The North Water by Ian McGuire. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great 2016 Book Preview.
Visual effects virtuoso Ray Harryhausen died this week at the age of 92. Harryhausen was first inspired to take up movie-making when he watched King Kong with his childhood friend Ray Bradbury, and his pioneering career spanned over forty years. Over at Vulture, you can check out a couple of his most well-known scenes. To my mind, though, his best work will always remain Galgo’s creepy, stretch-tastic wizard hand from The 7th Voyage of Sinbad.
Los Angeles Review of Books managing editor Evan Kindley reviews Michael Szalay’s Hip Figures: A Literary History of the Democratic Party, and says it “reminds us of a time, not long ago, when literary intellectuals set great store by mainstream political parties, and vice versa.”
You may remember the brouhaha surrounding Bustle, the first website in history to market primarily to women. Now, in this week’s New Yorker, Lizzie Widdicombe profiles the website, which she describes by pointing out that “[its] articles are modest, but the ambitions of its founder, a young Silicon Valley entrepreneur named Bryan Goldberg, are not.”
Interested in seeing unsettling characters — preferably with moustaches — looking for meaning in wacky postmodernist settings? Well, o ye of of bizarre inclinations, you’re in luck: Thomas Pynchon is rumored to be working with Paul Thomas Anderson. (He’s also coming out with a new book.)