“Not infrequently I unravelled what I had done, continuously tormented by scruples that were taking tighter hold and steadily paralysing me. These scruples concerned not only the subject of my narrative, which I felt I could not do justice to, no matter what approach I tried, but also the entire questionable business of writing.” On W.G Sebald and unsatisfactory communication from The Nation.
What do Talking Heads, The Smiths, Judas Priest, and Blondie have in common? They’re all featured in the playlist Picador made to accompany the paperback release of Jeffrey Eugenides's latest novel, The Marriage Plot. The Spotify list is chock full of songs “Madeleine, Leonard, and Mitchell might have been listening to in the early 1980s.” You can read Eugenides’s take on the book’s genesis over here, too.
Jonathan Franzen’s Kraus Project should be “a match made in heaven,” writes Jacob Mikanowski, because of how it pairs together “the old hater [Karl Kraus] and the new [Franzen], the Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid of cultural criticism drawn together across the gulf of a century to take on all comers.” Alas, the end result is instead a “strange and rather discordant experience, like receiving a deep tissue massage while being spat on from a great height.” (Bonus: One of the best London Review of Books openers of all time.)
"The female writers whose work has most recently come in for enthusiastic appraisal are by no means a homogeneous group; their influences, preoccupations and style vary wildly." The Guardian profiles six women authors – Beryl Bainbridge, Anita Brookner, Angela Carter, Jenny Diski, Elizabeth Jane Howard, and Molly Keane – whose posthumous legacies continue to grow. Alix Hawley wrote a fantastic tribute to Brookner here earlier this year, noting, "[n]obody does depression quite so elegantly."
Congratulations are in order for Vanessa Veselka: PEN American has awarded her debut novel Zazen the Robert W. Bingham Prize. I first heard about the novel last year, from what was then the brand-spanking-new LARB, though this Minnesota Public Radio profile of Veselka is also a great way to get acquainted with her exciting talents.