“The demagogic spirit of the ‘radio priest’ Father Charles Coughlin and the ‘minister of hate’ Gerald L.K. Smith has been reborn in the candidacy of Donald Trump, just as the exhortations of the Louisiana boss and rabble-rouser Huey Long, who declared war on ‘the superrich’ and proposed a ‘Share Our Wealth Society,’ all but predicted Bernie Sanders’s attack on ‘the billionaire class.'” Examining what political books can tell us about the election season with Sam Tanenhaus at The New York Times.
Anonymous strikes again: On January 25th, the entity that brought us 1996’s deliciously scandalous Primary Colors: A Novel of Politics, offers a roman à clef for the Obama age: O: A Presidential Novel. Then it was Joe Klein, but this Anon. is still Anon. Perhaps better than the insider gossip: The media-fueled whodunit the novel’s sure to inspire.
“As phenomenological philosophy has determined, self-consciousness is not a mental state that is added on to our experience, or that is particular; rather, it is a feature inherent in all experience. My perception contains me.” Send your Sunday into an existential tailspin with German psychologist Marc Wittmann and his heady ideas about the notion of time and consciousness.
“The Goldfinch is a grand nineteenth-century novel in that it is an 800-page chronicle of capitalism, a paean to the ways in which the world turns on the questions of who can or can’t pay for what, and how these abilities and inabilities mold us over time. Like the life events and relationships it depicts, it purports to be about love but is actually about money. This portrayal of twentieth century North American society is accurate, but also, just as in life, both exhausting and demoralizing.” On Donna Tartt’s latest novel. (You could also read Adam Dalva’s take on the book.)
Recommended viewing: Tobias Wolff tried to convince Stephen Colbert that The Catcher in the Rye is J.D. Salinger’s best book. “Do we need to be reinforcing our kids’ bad behavior as teenagers with the idea they could be a character in a great novel? Dad, I wasn’t disobeying you, I was exploring modes of alienation,” Colbert joked.
“If you didn’t feel you were discovering something as you wrote your memoir, don’t publish it. Instead hit the delete key, and then go congratulate yourself for having lived a perfectly good, undistinguished life. There’s no shame in that.” Neil Genzlinger at the New York Times lays some ground rules for those compelled to write memoirs.