"I realize that, like most fantasies, reality is likely to be more complicated. For starters, literary communities—like most communities—have echelons. They have cliques; they have ghettos. You are the wrong age, work in the wrong genre, don’t know the right people, don’t teach at the same program ... Anyone who thinks this isn’t true is someone squarely at the center of his or her chosen circle." On peripherality and the uncertain nature of literary community.
"His books used to be ink on paper; now we have to squint through the cloud of the Ellroy Phenomenon." And the James Ellroy Phenomenon looks like it will only continue: the author has announced plans for a second L.A. Quartet, the first of which, Perfidia, comes out next week.
Out this week: The Novel: An Alternative History by Steven Moore; Claire of the Sea Light by Edwidge Danticat; F, a new book of poems by Franz Wright; and The Affairs of Others by Amy Grace Loyd, which Katie Rogin reviewed for us last week. For more on these and other interesting titles, go read our Great Second-Half 2013 Book Preview.
Wallace Shawn has written a new play, and it's unsettling to watch. In it, a group of wealthy, middle-aged party hosts reveal their roles in a dystopian future, where political murders, random beatings and censorship are all commonplace. In an essay for The New York Review of Books, Francine Prose reviews the play in the context of Shawn's other works.