In an interview with Jonathan Lethem, the NBCC’s Jane Ciabaratti offers, inter alia, a sympathetic reading of Chronic City; both have more affection than Kakutani did for what Lethem calls “the claptrap contraption plot I invented.” Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal, in a flash of inspiration, assigns the book to the estimable Alexander Theroux – the only non-Latin writer who can credibly use the word “prosopographical” in a review. (But, attn editor: “not a jot” twice? in subsequent paragraphs?) A marathon bi-borough reading of the entire novel continues tonight at McNally Jackson.
For Guernica, Tana Wojcznick explores the belief in populism in Shakespeare’s often-misread play Coriolanus. She writes, “Coriolanus criticizes the people he claims to want to represent not simply because they are a mob, but because as a single body they are too easily swayed in their opinion, too easily flattered.” Pair with this Millions essay on rewriting Shakespeare.
“Most of the time I think of the self as a snare, and I don’t like being trapped in it. I try to reach out beyond my pittance of experience and connect to the world, but it turns out one way to do that is to be honest and accurate about my own life.” Leslie Jamison interviews Charles D’Ambrosio for The New Yorker. Pair with our own Hannah Gersen‘s review of D’Ambrosio’s Loitering.
The Great Gatsby debuted in 1925 to poor sales and mediocre reviews. So how did it become one of the most famous novels in America? At Slate, Cristina Hartmann explains how Fitzgerald’s opus, which netted the author royalties worth a grand total of $13 in his lifetime, went on to become a classic. Related: our own Bill Morris on a book about the novel by Sarah Churchwell. (h/t The Paris Review Daily)
A couple weeks ago, Matt Ashby and Brendan Carroll argued in a Salon piece that David Foster Wallace, who wrote an essay about the television and irony back in the early ‘90s, presciently diagnosed the danger of snark in our own age. Now Peter Finocchiaro, a senior editor at Salon, argues instead that we need irony more than we ever have. You could also read A-J Aronstein’s notes from the DFW Symposium.
What’s the deal with all the fake birds animated into fantasy and sci-fi films these days? According to Brian Thill, these digital flocks “aren’t just there to make the unreal scenes feel a bit more real” but are rather signifiers of “our oldest and most common metaphor for freedom.” What to make of their ability to evade disaster or succumb to it, however, is another story entirely.
“On the level of narrative possibility, I was really drawn to the sense of aloneness that rose from so many of these images—the terrifying possibility of being the last person left on earth, or even the last person left in a neighborhood, a swamp, a freeway. That stark haunting irony of living in a world of excess that has eventually collapsed on itself, emptied out.” Guernica interviews Leslie Jamison and Ryan Spencer for their new collaboration, Such Mean Estate.