“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.)
Susan Sontag once wrote that the truest way to portray illness was without metaphor. Our own Marie Myung-Ok Lee takes a look at autism in recent literature and the ways its writers (ranging from Don DeLillo, Jonathan Lethem, and Louise Erdrich) have often reduced those with autism to a literary construct.
Looks like you might want to add Noah Hawley’s new suspense novel Before the Fall to your reading list — this review by the New York Times is effusive in its praise. Check out the other side of what a Times review can do and pair it with this review of Laura Tillman’s The Long Shadow of Small Ghosts, which includes such lines as: “Is a book without judgment, a personal view and confidence in its validity still a book?”
In a piece for The Atlantic, Micah Mattix responds to the 50th Anniversary Edition of Lunch Poems with a reflection on the social media-esque quality of Frank O’Hara‘s poetry. “O’Hara’s Lunch Poems—like Facebook posts or tweets—shares, saves, and re-creates the poet’s experience of the world. He addresses others in order to combat a sense of loneliness, sharing his gossipy, sometimes snarky take of modern life, his unfiltered enthusiasm, and his boredom in a direct, conversational tone. In short, Lunch Poems, while 50 years old, is a very 21st-century book.”
Considering his first novel was a chronicle of gang life in the Bronx, it makes sense that the new book by Richard Price is a tale of the NYPD. In the latest issue of The New Yorker, Joyce Carol Oates reads the novel, remarking that it “retains a residue of Price’s absorption with his rough urban settings and with the phenomenon of a particular sort of masculinity.” Related: our own Garth Risk Hallberg on Price and his crime fiction contemporaries.
“There are writers we instinctively, permanently dislike: not only will we never read them, we will quietly relish the not-reading, finding in it a pleasure that can occasionally rival reading itself.” Dan Piepenbring explores the advantages of not reading for the The Paris Review. Pair with our own Sonya Chung’s essay on the art of not finishing books.
F. Scott Fitzgerald called himself “a moralist at heart,” which might be why Kathryn Schulz finds The Great Gatsby to be “aesthetically overrated, psychologically vacant, and morally complacent.”