“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 fought the urge to throw up in my hands as I asked myself, ‘How the fuck did I get here?’” When you’re a jewel mule, as Kayli Stollak describes in this piece for The Establishment (via Narratively), going through customs can be a little stressful. For more lurid tales of crime and aristocratic extravagance, see our own Matt Seidel‘s review of Making Monte Carlo: A History of Speculation and Spectacle.
New York Times travel editor Monica Drake recounts visiting Antigua after reading Jamaica Kincaid’s A Small Place—a sharp critique of tourism and the colonialist narrative around the island. As she puts it, “For all the drama of its history, […] the beauty of the place, the very thing that bewitches its tourists, renders it a time capsule to its residents.”
“Well, continuing with my policy of baring my soul, Dwight Garner said something like, the book was like one of those satellite photos of North Korea when I talked about the second marriage. I obviously had very little access to Updike from ‘77 on, really. And I cheated a bit by using Ian McEwan as my spy in the Updike household. First of all, Updike definitely did pull up the drawbridge and retire into his castle and I thought, in a sense, that this should be respected. He had decided on his persona, at that point—the highly professional man of letters. And I thought, why not let him go out with that persona intact?” At The Awl, Elon Green talks with Adam Begley about his new biography of John Updike.