Those of you with some knowledge of Pale Fire and Lolita won’t be surprised to learn what Nabokov thought of dinner parties. Namely, he thought they were awful, vaguely surreal events, held largely by drunkards with overriding appetites for drama. At The Paris Review Daily, Sadie Stein quotes a passage from “The Vane Sisters” to explain why “It’s hard to think of someone you’d want less at a midcentury faculty tea, save maybe a seething Shirley Jackson.” You could also read our own Garth Risk Hallberg on Nabokov’s Ada, or Ardor.
“When the corrective to women’s exclusion from history is to find a few suitable individuals to pluck out of the messy rush of life and achievement, and hold up for admiration, we forget that many of women’s most important historical achievements…have been the product of collaboration, community, and collective action.” For Slate, Joanna Scutts writes about recent spate of historical books about rebellious, misbehaved women, and who is left out of those stories. From our archives: a list of vile women in fiction.
New this week is Sarah Vowell’s Unfamiliar Fishes (reviewed here) along with new story collections from E.L. Doctorow (All the Time in the World) and Jim Shepard (You Think That’s Bad). Also new this week is Kate Atkinson’s latest Jackson Brodie mystery Started Early, Took My Dog and Paul McEuen’s debut mixing “science and suspense” Spiral. Out in paperback is Millions Hall of Famer A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan.
Good Books is an online book retailer that donates all of its proceeds to Oxfam. It’s also a big fan of trippy literary homage. In a collaboration with two creative studios, and without consulting the Hunter S. Thompson or Franz Kafka estates, the group’s released a promo that draws on some of the most “out-there” elements of both writers.