“Sometimes I think I’ve lost my nerve a little bit. I think it’s growing older, and a certain reservoir of anger literally runs out.” The Guardian interviews James Wood, author and book critic at The New Yorker, about his craft, his forthcoming novel Upstate, and the landscape of today’s literary criticism. Pair with: an essay about the greatness (and great influence) of Wood on a fellow novelist.
There’s a certain narrative voice with an unspoken aim to exonerate the speaker from wrongdoing. It occurs in novels, though it’s most common in monologues, especially those which take up the entirety of a play. At Bookforum, Lurid and Cute author Adam Thirlwell lists a number of examples, including Hunger by Knut Hamsun and Wars I Have Seen by Gertrude Stein.
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.
What if Petrarch had blurbed The Divine Comedy, or Shakespeare, “author of Tony Award-winning sensation Hamlet,” had reviewed Don Quixote? Tom Rachman imagines these blurbs and more for The Rumpus, and his piece pairs well with our brief history of the blurb.
Tim Parks investigates the idea of “writing to death” in the cases of Thomas Hardy, D.H. Lawrence, Anton Chekhov, Charles Dickens and William Faulkner. “So many of the writers I have looked at seem permanently torn between irreconcilable positions,” Parks writes. “Eventually, the dilemma driving the work either leads to death, or is neutralized in a way that prolongs life but dulls the writing” (Bonus: Our own Mark O’Connell just reviewed Parks’s latest book, Italian Ways.)