“But migraines! Everyone relishes a migraine. They have a literal aura! Migraines foster the sort of pure narcissism that only intense, essentially benign pain can. We sufferers (that’s how it’s described, “migraine sufferer”) feel it is meet and right that the migraine should be dramatized in films like Pi or White Heat; this strengthens the perception that migraines are the hallmark of geniuses, or at least psychopaths. Joan Didion writes about them; of course she does.” Sadie Stein on the allure of the headache to end all headaches.
Our review of A Widow’s Story took Joyce Carol Oates to task for not mentioning that she had remarried not long after the death of her husband. In the New York Review of Books, Julian Barnes recently made the same point. Responding to the Barnes review, Oates defended her choice, but diplomatically added, “In retrospect I can see that I should have added something like an appendix.”
Members of the Word Reference forum contemplate the etymology and meaning of the “A” in the expression, “Fuckin’ A.” Elsewhere Geoffrey Nunberg, linguist and author of Assholism: The First Sixty Years, shares his take on the ubiquitous “a-word,” which he believes originated during World War II.
Sir Frank Kermode, widely acclaimed as Britain’s foremost literary critic, died yesterday in Cambridge at the age of 90. Guardian recalls highlights of his eminent career, including inspiring the founding of The London Review of Books, publishing books ranging from works on Spenser and Donne to last year’s Concerning EM Forster, and being an acclaimed reviewer: Philip Roth admitted that although he dislikes reading reviews, “if Frank Kermode reviewed my book I would read it.”
Out this week: City of Secrets by Stewart O’Nan; Ladivine by Marie NDiaye; These Heroic, Happy Dead by Luke Mogelson; The Adventurist by J. Bradford Hipps; and Whosoever Has Let a Minotaur Enter Them by Emily Carr. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great 2016 Book Preview.
Along with the dreaded switch to Daylight Wastings Time, the first of the month brings new issues of Open Letters Monthly and N1BR. Between the two of them, you can find, among other things, reviews of Where the Wild Things Are, J.M. Coetzee‘s Age of Iron, Bob Seger, and the Complete Bloggings of Caleb Crain.