Lolita was panned as “dull, dull, dull,” while Collected Poems by W.B. Yeats was called “as discouraging as a breakfast of cold porridge.” Read some of the harshest New York Times book reviews of literary classics. Of Ulysses, the reviewer declares: “The average intelligent reader will glean little or nothing from it…save bewilderment and a sense of disgust.” Ouch.
“Much of what passes for advanced literary scholarship these days is dreadful twaddle — incoherent, emotionally empty, deeply illiterate,” says Terry Castle in a recent interview with Salon about her new book of essays, The Professor. You can also catch Castle in the most recent issue of The New York Times Magazine.
“I’ve come to understand that I’ll rarely experience that first rush of discovery again, and perhaps that’s the problem with re-reading. It reminds us both of where we’ve been and where we can’t go again.” Sarah Seltzer wonders why do we reread books as children but not as adults? Pair with Lisa Levy‘s essay on “The Pleasures and Perils of Rereading.”
Colm Tóibín’s new collection The Empty Family is out today, as is comedian Patton Oswalt’s Zombie Spaceship Wasteland. New in paperback: 2010 fave The Imperfectionists. Many more new books to look forward to, of course, in our massive preview published this week.
A while ago, I pointed readers to Charles Yu’s review of Buffalo Wild Wings, published as part of the series Novelists in Restaurants Eating Food. Now, on the other side of the tacky-bourgeois spectrum, Amelia Gray reviews Tsujita LA Artisan Noodle. Sample quote: “While I’m at home, or at work, reading or staring into space, it’s good to know that somewhere, a soup is doing the work of becoming more delicious.”