Out this week: City of Secrets by Stewart O’Nan; Ladivine by Marie NDiaye; These Heroic, Happy Dead by Luke Mogelson; The Adventurist by J. Bradford Hipps; and Whosoever Has Let a Minotaur Enter Them by Emily Carr. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great 2016 Book Preview.
“At home, I dedicate occasional whole days to reading as if I’m a convalescent. The ideal place for this is the bath, where the body floats free,” Rachel Kushner told The New York Times in a “By the Book” interview. Yet just because her reading style is leisurely doesn’t mean her reading is; she discusses her love of Proust and avoidance of books known for their plots. For more Kushner, read our own interview with her or her 2013 Year in Reading post.
“But poems are not poems if they make people feel dead. I want people to feel alive – even if it is alive with grief.” The Guardian profiles poet Danez Smith about poetry; race, gender, and queerness; and their poetry collection, Don’t Call Us Dead (a finalist for the National Book Award). Pair with: an essay on writing that gives shape and depth to victims of criminal injustice.
One night in 1937, Avies Platt decided to attend a meeting of the Sex Education Society, held at London’s Grafton Galleries. When the meeting was over, she ended up driving none other than W.B. Yeats to the afterparty. In the LRB, she recalls her encounter with greatness.
For the most part, Alexis de Tocqueville had good things to say about the young United States in his book Democracy in America, which is probably why we tend to forget that he thought Americans weren’t funny. What de Tocqueville missed, according to a new history of American humor, is the extent to which American funniness emerged from subversive groups of outsiders. In Bookforum, Ben Schwartz takes stock of the arguments in American Fun.