“He represents a failure of empiricism — an unreliability arising not from the absence of rationality, but from the stubborn complexity of perception. This, I would argue, is precisely how the 2016 election went down.” In an article for The Los Angeles Review of Books, Aaron R. Hanlon argues that Cervantes’ classic provides the perfect framework for understanding contemporary America, concluding that “Don Quixote is such a player in US politics that he might as well run for office.” Our own C. Max Magee read Quixote not long after founding the site, deeming it “essential to all who wish to understand ‘the novel’ as a literary form.”
“There was an inefficient system in place, and what I did was subvert it by an external rotation of reluctant holly jollies. Nasally, I came to understand that light is a thing that is produced through the collision of particulates, and boy isn’t that the truth.” As part of their year-end review, McSweeney’s republished their ten most popular pieces of 2014, including the above. Its title? “Donald Barthelme Narrates the Progress of the Reindeer.”
“Desire is transformative, and transgressive: whether it’s an unpeeled onion or a noble lover, to want something, especially for women, can never be entirely benign.” Kristiana Willsey writes about folktales, fairy godmothers, childless queens and hunger in a piece for The Toast.
The Economist’s nifty, new(?) culture mag More Intelligent Life is putting together guides to the best critics, including those who cover books; film; dance, art, and classical music, and rock music. Scott has performed a similar exercise for book reviewers, as well.Polite magazine: “Where Are They Now? A visit with Encyclopedia Brown“The estimable New York Sun books section follows our lead in adding a review archive.Nextbook asks: Where have all Bernard Malamud’s readers gone?Vroman’s, a legendary Southern California independent bookstore and the employer of Millions contributor Patrick, has been named Bookseller of the Year by PW.Richard Russo:”My fictional Eliot [Spitzer] would be complex, would contain paradoxes. He would not be a hypocrite. My Eliot would believe with his whole heart in his crusades against the corrupt and the powerful and the privileged, even as he worked studiously to undermine his legacy. Fiction can accommodate such paradoxes, provided they’re explained.”An open letter to Steve Jobs pleading for Apple to create an iPod optimized for “a best-of-breed reading experience.” (via)One of our most anticipated books, Jonathan Littell’s novel Les Bienveillantes won’t be out in English for a while yet, but a new translation into German offers an opportunity for another review to trickle out.There are 1,000 Places to See Before You Die and 1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, but forget all that and “Read this column before you die.”
Last week, I followed up the news that “because” may now be used as a preposition by noting that the American Dialect Society had named it their Word of the Year. Now, in The New Republic, John McWhorter argues that the new preposition is used to signal empathy and warmth. (Related: Fiona Maazel on the dangers of bad grammar.)
James Hynes discusses the books he read when writing his latest novel, Next: “I wanted to see if I could write a day-in-the-life novel, a narrative that would be set in a single day, or part of one, and by working backwards and forwards through flashbacks, encompass the entire life of a single character.”