“An appeal for the revival of the negative book review, then, is a remonstration against forced and foppish praise, where everything is good and so nothing at all is good.” In The Baffler, Rafia Zakaria writes in praise of negative book reviews and decries the “enfeebling of literary criticism.” From our archives: our own Emily St. John Mandel writes about bad book reviews.
“I wish all this telling women alcohol is dangerous was a manifestation of a country that loves babies so much it’s all over lead contamination from New Orleans to Baltimore to Flint and the lousy nitrate-contaminated water of Iowa and carcinogenic pesticides and the links between sugary junk food and juvenile diabetes and the need for universal access to healthcare and daycare and good and adequate food. You know it’s not. It’s just about hating on women. Hating on women requires narratives that make men vanish and make women magicians producing babies out of thin air and dissolute habits.” Rebecca Solnit on the passive voice, mysterious pregnancies, disappearing men, and the Center for Disease Control. Pair with this Millions review of Solnit’s book The Faraway Nearby.
“What [Vladimir] Nabokov is actually doing in Lolita is deliberately drawing on all manner of anti-Semitic propaganda, from The Protocols of the Elders of Zion to Nazi caricatures of the Jewish ‘type,’ to create in Humbert Humbert the anti-Semitic cliché of legend, rather as, say, Chaucer draws on medieval misogynist writings to create in the figure of the Wife of Bath the archetypal shrew of his male audience’s nightmares.”
“Poised to shake up the genre with its daring choice of protagonist, a groundbreaking young adult novel released this week by author Joan Berman reportedly makes the bold choice of following a moody, independently minded high school student who could be described as something of a loner.” The Onion pokes fun at YA fiction.
For The Brooklyn Rail, John Ashbery answers some questions about writing in French, crushes on boys, and the presence of “it.” As he puts it, “I’m sort of notorious for my use of the pronoun ‘it’ without explaining what it means, which somehow never seemed a problem to me.”