Out this week: Warlight by Michael Ondaatje; That Kind of Mother by Rumaan Alam; Come West and See by Maxim Loskutoff; The Lost Empress by Sergio De La Pava; Belly Up by Rita Bullwinkel; and Spring by Karl Ove Knausgaard.
It’s common for descriptions of James Joyce’s Dubliners to label its stories portraits of Irish life. If you’d like to look at actual portraits of Irish life in 1904, however, you could do a lot worse than this series of old photos of Dublin, available online courtesy of the Google Cultural Institute.
“As for the charge that [Constance] Garnett writes in an outdated language, yes, here and there she uses words and phrases that no one uses today, but not many of them. We find the same sprinkling of outdated words and phrases in the novels of Trollope and Dickens and George Eliot. Should they, too, be rewritten for modern sensibilities? (Would u really want that?)” It’s shaping up to be a day of passionate defenses. Writing for the New York Review of Books, Janet Malcom urges readers to put down their Pevear/Volokhonsky translations of Russian classics and pick Constance Garnett’s back up again.
At Salon, Cornel Bonca reviews Roth Unbound, a new “hybrid” biography of Roth that New Yorker staff writer Claudia Roth Pierpont wrote after months of interviews. Although the book glosses over Roth’s personal flaws, it gives a great overview of his work, Bonca writes.
“By three a.m., the seven of us had drunk a case of champagne, plus two additional bottles, followed by whiskey digestifs for the men. ‘They do this all the time,’ Pierre’s wife Chloe whispered to me in English at one point—dismissively, but without malice. As if to say, sure, Pierre’s relatives were lushes, but perhaps this was how life should be, inévitablement.” I doubt I have to tell you what city this all took place in.
Interested in seeing unsettling characters — preferably with moustaches — looking for meaning in wacky postmodernist settings? Well, o ye of of bizarre inclinations, you’re in luck: Thomas Pynchon is rumored to be working with Paul Thomas Anderson. (He’s also coming out with a new book.)