“Too vast for human comprehension, yet at the same time a tabula rasa for each fragile individual’s desires, it’s a classic example of the Romantic sublime, as mesmerising as it is deadly.” The Guardian reviews Year in Reading Alumnus Claire Vaye Watkins’s Gold Fame Citrus. Compare and contrast with our review of the novel.
“My process for writing is the same, regardless of form: I abandon my children, I become a horrible husband, and a half-assed teacher. That’s what it all has in common.” Adam Johnson interviewed for Tin House in conjunction with the release of his new collection of short stories, Fortune Smiles.
Next week, the folks at Literary Death Match are bringing literature into the third dimension by staging “LDM TV: The Pilot.” Two shows consisting of four readers apiece will take place in Los Angeles, and performances will be judged by a killer lineup including such notables as Susan Orlean, Michael C. Hall, Moby and Tig Notaro. Full event details can be found here. For what it’s worth, I still rank Matt Gajewski’s LDM performance as my all-time favorite, so Beau Sia, Simon Rich, Daniel Alarcón and company have their work cut out for them.
Out this week: Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran; A Mother’s Tale by Phillip Lopate; Huck Out West by Robert Coover; Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin; The Midnight Cool by Lydia Peelle; The Antiques by Kris D’Agostino; Lotus by Lijia Zhang; and Collected Stories by E.L. Doctorow. For more on these and other new titles, go read our latest book preview.
Martin Amis’ The Pregnant Widow is out today (Kakutani sez, “remarkably tedious” but The Guardian adds, “Amis might draw comfort from the long and distinguished list of Kakutani’s literary victims.”) Also out, Sebastian Junger’s War, the result of time spent embedded with a platoon of the 173rd Airborne brigade in Afghanistan.
It can be hard for critics to strike a balance between high theory and accessible prose. For James Wood, the key is to retain enough theoretical knowledge to come up with an insightful point, while still retaining the ability to write in a natural dialect. In The Guardian, he talks about his own relationship with books.