“He was surely the greatest literary editor there has ever been – brilliant, autocratic, endlessly curious and possessed of an extraordinary fund of knowledge about a vast range of subjects. True, he was not always easy to deal with, but when has the best ever been easy?” John Banville on the late Robert Silvers.
New this week: The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant; Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz; a limited edition of The David Foster Wallace Reader; and The Poem She Didn’t Write and Other Poems by Olena Kalytiak Davis (which I wrote about last week). For more on these and other recent titles, go read our Great Second-half 2014 Book Preview.
Recently, it seemed hard to find a book not blurbed by Gary Shteyngart. He did blurb 150 books in the past decade. Yet now the author has decided to mostly retire from blurbing, he announced in The New Yorker. “Literature can and will go on without my mass blurbing. Perhaps it may even improve.” Pair with: Our own Bill Morris’s essay on whether or not to blurb.
“I struggled, quite a bit, writing this review. Reviewing books, while easy in certain ways — you have certain aspects of form to follow, there are certain features of books that cannot go unremarked: one must write about character, about language, about technique — and really a rather simple process (much simpler, it would seem, than writing books), can also be a pain. Especially, frustratingly enough, when the book is really good.” On Lola Lafon’s We Are the Birds of the Coming Storm.
The “good bad guy” has been having his moment on television. From Don Draper to Tony Soprano, America loves the anti-hero. Here’s a look at some literary anti-heroes from over at Ploughshares. You are likely to either agree with or be enraged by this essay from The Millions on likeability in fiction.