Good news! According to Vinson Cunningham’s new essay in The New Yorker, beauty merely “masks and perfumes … it freezes moral categories in place,” whereas ugliness, on the other hand, “is sometimes the closest thing to the truth.” Wait, is that good news? Bonus: Vinson wrote a Year in Reading piece for us.
Looking for more thoughts on My Life in Middlemarch to supplement today’s interview? At Salon, Laura Miller reviews Rebecca Mead’s book, which she calls a “moving demonstration” of Middlemarch’s power. (You could also read Adelle Waldman’s Year in Reading piece about the novel.)
“Grim was the world and grey last night / The moon and stars were fled.” It looks like even J.R.R. Tolkien might have been a an angsty teen. Two previously unseen poems by the legendary author have been found in a forgotten annual printed by a small primary school in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, in 1936. For another Tolkien-related blast from the past, here is W.H. Auden’s review of The Return of the King, book three of the Lord of the Rings series.
Out this week: Flood of Fire by Amitav Ghosh; Wind/Pinball by Haruki Murakami; The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman; Let Me Tell You by Shirley Jackson; Three Moments of an Explosion by China Miéville; The Girl Who Slept with God by Val Brelinski; Make Your Home Among Strangers by Jeanine Capo Crucet; and The Daughters by Adrienne Celt. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-Half 2015 Book Preview.