It doesn’t get much better than James Wood on Joy Williams: “Nothing is stranger (and funnier) in Williams’s work than her details. Like her forms, they only resemble conventional realist details, an atmosphere perhaps encouraged by her flat, functional sentences (“They danced. Sam had quite a bit to drink”). The details are frequently surreal, magical, hallucinogenic, delivered in a cool, dispassionate, routine manner.”
Sam Tanenhaus asks, What do this season’s political books tell us about the election? As he puts it, “Election-year analyses always seem to arrive too late or too soon. They are useful nonetheless. The mistakes and misapprehensions — what the authors thought they knew — mirror the broader thinking of their moment.” Pair with this Millions essay on politics and excessive language.
Jacket Copy visits Joan Didion at her apartment in Manhattan to discuss Blue Nights, which moves back and forth between the death of Didion’s 39-year-old daughter, Quintana, six years ago and the author’s reflections on aging. The book is a much anticipated follow-up to 2005’s The Year of Magical Thinking, in which Didion wrote about the death of her husband, John Gregory Dunne.