For The New Yorker, Jill Lepore brings a critical eye to the memoirs of 2020’s Democratic presidential candidates, comparing the lyricism and romance of Pete Buttigieg’s Shortest Way Home to the force and anger of Elizabeth Warren’s This Fight Is Our Fight to the less inspired liberal-cum-Republican coming-of-age narrative in Ronald Reagan’s Where’s the Rest of Me? “Most of the books,” Lepore notes, “are not great books, and some of these people just don’t seem like good people. That doesn’t mean they wouldn’t make good Presidents, I guess, but it raises a question: Why do they write this stuff?” What are political autobiographies really for?
A couple weeks ago, Brian Ted Jones reviewed The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell, which “takes place on the margins of a grand, cosmic struggle.” Not long afterwards, at The Rumpus, Woody Brown offered a somewhat negative take on the book, arguing that Mitchell makes it too difficult for the reader to suspend her disbelief. You could also read Brown’s Millions review of Haruki Murakami’s new novel.
The new book release schedule is slow in December, but the third book in Javier Marías’ acclaimed Your Face Tomorrow trilogy is now out, Poison, Shadow, and Farewell. Also, new on shelves is The True Deceiver, a 1982 novel by the Finnish writer Tove Jansson from NYRB Classics.
Year in Reading alumna Sarah Manguso writes about motherhood, writing, and the disintegration of the self in a moving essay for Harper’s. As she puts it, “I want to read books that were written in desperation, by people who are disturbed and overtaxed, who balance on the extreme edge of experience. I want to read books by people who are acutely aware that death is coming and that abiding love is our last resort.” Pair with Jaime Green’s Millions review of Manguso’s Ongoingness: The End of a Diary.
Albert Camus fans, it’s time to plan your trip to New York. A month-long celebration of the author’s first visit to the city will be taking place from March 26th through April 19th. If you’re celebrating from home, read our review of his American Journals.
At Page-Turner, Daphne Merkin reads Catherine Lacey’s Nobody Is Ever Missing, which follows the journey of a disenchanted New Yorker as she hitchhikes her way through New Zealand. The novel, Merkin writes, features what Leslie Jamison, in her recent essay collection, termed a “post-wounded woman.”
Just in time for Mother’s Day: whiz-kid chef (and friend of The Millions) Barton Seaver has just published his first book, For Cod and Country: Simple, Delicious, Sustainable Cooking. Bon appetit, Mom!