“When I ask him why he likes something, it’s a perverse exercise less to gain new insight than to trick him into admitting to his personality.” For Longreads, Dead Girls writer Alice Bolin tries to understand her father through the (sometimes misogynistic) mystery novels he reads and loves. (Read our own Janet Potter on Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy.)
A lot is written about artists just starting their careers, and about those artists with a lifetime of work to look back over, but in a piece for The Enemy Barry Schwabasky considers the difficulty of being somewhere in the middle of an artistic career. After all, “most artists do, for better or worse, live through what’s come to be known as their midcareer. It’s just that they don’t often do so with ease. … The middle of the journey sometimes seems to be all about losing the way.”
Speaking of France: whether or not you find him disagreeable, Michel Houellebecq is pretty much guaranteed to elicit an emotional response from readers. His new opinion piece in The New York Times is no different. Here’s a review of Houellebecq’s The Map and the Territory that refers to him as a “petty misanthrope.”
The “good bad guy” has been having his moment on television. From Don Draper to Tony Soprano, America loves the anti-hero. Here’s a look at some literary anti-heroes from over at Ploughshares. You are likely to either agree with or be enraged by this essay from The Millions on likeability in fiction.