“The blackly comic energy of Nathanael West’s Miss Lonelyhearts—its caustic ebullience, the strange buoyancy of its suffering—is a remarkably American achievement, a kind of death-dance capered on the corpse of a vividly rendered early 1930s Manhattan.” On Miss Lonelyhearts, the darkest American masterpiece.
“I should probably write a few words about 2015, but the year is stale now, rung out like a damp dish rag and left to dry in the cold, dour winds of some rundown burg blasted off the map by poverty and overcast. 2015 has been recorded, logged, and filed away as History, and as an American, I abide by my country’s allergy to revisiting History.” Catapult’s Mensah Demary on the tradition of New Year’s resolutions.
At the Morgan Library in NYC: “A Woman’s Wit: Jane Austen‘s Life and Legacy.” Read the NY Times review of the show here. And, if your hankering for eighteenth and early nineteenth century English art isn’t sated by the Austen, the Morgan is also offering “William Blake‘s World: ‘A New Heaven Is Begun'”.
“If Do-It-Yourself culture continues to gain appeal as fast as climate change lays on the chaos, we will need to look to the hinterlands for both practical guidance and hints about the fashions of the future. I recently watched Werner Herzog’s 2010 documentary (directed in collaboration with Dmitry Vasyukov) Happy People, which follows a few Siberian fur trappers over the course of a year, and let me tell you: when Celsius and Fahrenheit converge, Gennady of Bakhtia does not waste his time tossing boiling water into the air just to see what happens.” On surviving the next polar vortex.
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.