“According to David Means and his debut novel, Hystopia, [classic war novels] aren’t simply about confronting the horrors of war, but also about concealing them, hiding them under a layer of rationalizations and wishful thinking that often simplifies their lawless anarchy and finds sense, meaning and purpose where there’s little.” Over at Electric Lit, Simon Chandler reviews David Means’s Hystopia.
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.
What do SoCal’s “vapid consumerism, gang violence, and social apathy” sound like? Jesus Makes The Shotgun Sound! Brace yourself and have a listen to their Raidohead-y latest single, “Do Not The Clothes Make The Man?!” or, if you’re looking to induce epileptic fits, try the video.
Haruki Murakami’s latest (which we reviewed) is out this week, as is a new edition of Augustus, the 1973 National Book Award winner by Stoner author John Williams. Also out: Friendswood by Rene Steinke; The Lotus and the Storm by Lan Cao; Before, During, After by Richard Bausch; The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan; and Your Face In Mine by Jess Row (which I wrote about for our Great Second-half 2014 Book Preview).
Continuing my trend of invoking Outkast’s musical stylings at least once per weekend, I now present to you Big Boi’s isolated vocals from “Bombs Over Baghdad.” (You can check out other isolated vocal tracks unrelated to Outkast over here, but I have to wonder why.)
Out this week: Andrew’s Brain by E.L. Doctorow; Perfect by Rachel Joyce; A Highly Unlikely Scenario by Rachel Cantor; Selected Letters of Robert Creeley; The Visionist by Rachel Urquhart; and new paperback editions of Karen Russell’s Vampires in the Lemon Grove, Kurt Vonnegut’s Letters and Year in Reading favorite Rachel Kushner’s The Flamethrowers.
“There’s no doubt that Life A User’s Manual takes an approach to depicting reality that is very different from the standard realist novel, which we have been conditioned to believe is the best and most-preferred way of representing our world…Though not without its enlightening aspects, this conversation has generally fallen into a simplistic dichotomy, where realist writing is described as giving us the real world of everyday life, and anything other than realist writing is seen as directing its energies toward a vague something that no one cares to define very well.” A look at Oulipo and its legacy from Lauren Elkin and Scott Esposito, who recently wrote an Oulipo-themed Year in Reading for us.