“‘So your idea is to drive across America and write about it without talking to a single American?’ ‘Yes.'” Karl Ove Knausgaard travels North America as “a tongue-in-cheek Tocqueville” for the New York Times Magazine. Pair with his piece for The Millions, “The View from My Window is a Constant Reminder,” and with Jonathan Callahan‘s reading of Knausgaard’s My Struggle.
Reviews are still in the literary news, and in the midst of all the nicey niceness and plentiful hot air, Alix Ohlin got a real smack down in the Times for her new novel, Inside, and her new collection of short stories Signs and Wonders. Which prompted J. Robert Lennon to consider: How does one even write a good “bad” review?
“We live in the age of opinion — offered instantly, effusively and in increasingly strident tones. Much of it goes by the name of criticism, and in the most superficial sense this is accurate.” The New York Times approached six accomplished critics, Stephen Burns, Katie Roiphe, Pankaj Mishra, Adam Kirsch, Sam Anderson, and Elif Batuman to explain, in the spirit of Alfred Kazin, “what it is they do, why they do it and why it matters.”
“First, humans domesticated the horse. Then, we invented analgesia for the horses while we got rid of God—eliminating pain while also eliminating pain’s previously greatest meaning. This made a lonely universe. We partially solved loneliness by inventing smartphones, but this also created our now endless distraction—which, fortunately, can be treated with Vyvanse.” Sasha Chapin for Hazlitt on his friend Rachel, who is living with a terminal illness.