Out this week: New Boy by Tracy Chevalier; Kintu by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi; The Awkward Age by Francesca Segal; The Australian by Emma Smith-Stevens; Evensong by Kate Southwood; Behind the Moon by Madison Smartt Bell; and Bad Dreams and Other Stories by Tessa Hadley. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
According to this week’s New York Magazine Approval Matrix, our own Kevin Hartnett’s article from two weeks ago is a highbrow yet despicable piece of writing. What makes it so despicable, you ask? Apparently they blame Professor Tom Ferraro’s adulatory passage on the The Godfather.
“Let the buppie and the arts section go to hell: Swiss Army Man is a film by which critics ought to judge ourselves. We have seen this movie before, in our dreams, when we were children. Its extraordinary contact with our oldest forms of storytelling seems to have rendered it an unintelligible novelty, but if we can’t see how gracefully everything in it matters to everything else in it — plot to character development to dialogue to music to art direction to setting to acting to cinematography — then there’s something wrong with us.” Daniel Radcliffe stars as a semi-animate, gas-filled corpse with amnesia in Swiss Army Man — a movie about farts. But what else is it about?
Fans of British comedic polymath and Apple fanboy Stephen Fry might be interested to know that the first season of Kingdom, Fry’s recent three-season British television series is available on Hulu. (Seasons 2 and; 3 are available on DVD in the US, but Season 1, mystifyingly, is not.) The series follows the doings of empathetic, small town Norfolk solicitor Peter Kingdom (Fry) and his gently eccentric fellow residents of the seaside town of Market Shipborough (actually Wells-Next-the-Sea). It’s soothing, cozy stuff.
Jacob Silverman tackles the niceness epidemic besieging literary criticism at the moment. Where have the hatchet jobs gone? Is social media’s “communalism” robbing critics of their fangs? Each time a publication refuses to print a negative review, the act amounts to “a victory for a publicist, but not for readers,” he writes. (Just a few notes: Silverman’s piece is based on a blog post he wrote recently; Emma Straub has responded on her own blog; and, for what it’s worth, our own Michael Bourne’s recent review of Richard Ford’s Canada was pretty toothy.)
“Dear publisher, I am sorry if I do so few of these stories justice. Someone else surely will. I don’t know what justice for a book is but I think I saw it as I prayed over this one.” Matthew Jakubowski reviews Diane Williams’ latest collection Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine at Minor Literature[s]. You could also read his reviews of Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi’s Fra Keeler and Margriet de Moor’s The Storm at The Millions.