Out this week: Men and Apparitions by Lynne Tillman; The Sparsholt Affair by Alan Hollinghurst; The Parking Lot Attendant by Nafkote Tamirat; The Last Watchman of Old Cairo by Michael David Lukas; Memento Park by Mark Sarvas; and The Merry Spinster by Mallory Ortberg.
Today arrives Barbara Kingsolver’s latest, Lacuna, “an epic journey from the Mexico City of artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo to the America of Pearl Harbor, FDR, and J. Edgar Hoover.” Also out are a couple more of those nifty “Olive Editions” from HarperCollins, this time of Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49 and Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. Update: There’s a new edition of Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation too.
“To say that late Victorian poetry is bleak would be akin to remarking that Wilkie Collins had a decent knack for plotting a novel. These poems are freighted with Gothic overtones, and it is not uncommon for some supernatural phenomenon to intrude upon what had started out as a seemingly harmless quatrain. We often encounter Death himself—or the Devil—who is something of a literary celebrity for the decadent poets. But what marks the best of these poems is that the outré is in service to something that we can think of as more desperate, and, wouldn’t you know, human.” Over at The Boston Review, an online-only essay looking at the peculiarities of Victorian decadent poetry.
Implicit in a lot of the discussions about how negative a book reviewer can be is a question of utility: is a book review an act of public service or a work of art in itself? In the Times, James Parker and Anna Holmes debate the purpose of the review. Sample quote: “I’d argue that a majority of the reading public doesn’t necessarily benefit from the sorts of reviews for which artistry is the point.” You could also read our own Matt Seidel’s hypothetical worst review ever.
Is there an indie press that consistently punches up as high and as successfully as Two Dollar Radio? They’re the ones who unleashed The Orange Eats Creeps onto our shelves three years ago, and they followed it up shortly thereafter with the breakout work of Scott McClanahan. Now? Now they’re poised for a threepeat with Shane Jones’s Crystal Eaters, which has already earned its author interviews on Hobart and The Paris Review. (Bonus: TDR’s publisher on moving his outfit to Ohio.)