Every decade or so, writes George Packer in his review of Dorian Lynskey’s The Ministry of Truth, it’s the same old line: “[George] Orwell got it wrong. Things haven’t turned out that bad. The Soviet Union is history. Technology is liberating.” But these arguments miss the point: “Orwell never intended his novel to be a prediction, only a warning.” For The Atlantic, Packer asks what 1984 means in today’s America.
Three cheers for literary magazines, eh? Do yourself a favor and check out Tin House’s new Portland/Brooklyn issue (with mixtape to match!), DIAGRAM 12.4, Hobart’s revamped website (with daily content!), and the brand new Revolver magazine out in the Twin Cities.
“Aspiring journalists tend to worship at the altar of Joan Didion,” writes Heather Havrilesky (who some of you may know as Polly) in the latest issue of Bookforum. The fact that so many writers look up to Didion as an example necessitates that the lit world find at least one offbeat alternative. In Havrilesky’s eyes, that alternative is obvious: the late Nora Ephron was the anti-Didion, she argues.
When Maeve Binchy passed away two years ago, she left behind a novel, A Week in Winter, that appeared to cap off an accomplished 40-year career. It turns out her fans have more posthumous work to look forward to: a new 400-page story collection, Chestnut Street, that comes out on April 24th.