At the Guardian, Carmen Maria Machado reflects on the complicated, “fundamentally difficult” work of suspense writer Patricia Highsmith. “If you read the genres of suspense,” Machado writes, “crime and mystery and horror in its many iterations – you know the sensation of allowing a master of her craft to pursue you through a maze; the tingly energy of the chase, the eroticism of encountering the end of the line. ‘Murder,’ Highsmith wrote in her diary in 1950, ‘is a kind of making love, a kind of possessing.’ When you read one of Highsmith’s stories, you’ve given her permission to follow you, catch you, take you apart. Get ready to run.”
New this week: Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights by Salman Rushdie; The Visiting Privilege by Joy Williams; The Lost Landscape by Joyce Carol Oates; This is Your Life, Harriet Chance! by Jonathan Evison; Cries for Help, Various by Padgett Powell; and Above the Waterfall by Ron Rash. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great Second-Half 2015 Book Preview.
A while back, we reviewed an anthology of work by American poets laureate–that is, those appointed by the President to serve the entire United States. But there are 45 currently-serving state poets laureate, and thousands of city, county, and other poets laureate as well. What exactly do they do?
Summertime, another work of fictionalized autobiography (following Boyhood and Youth) from Nobel Laureate J.M. Coetzee arrives this week. Also, new this week is Psycho Too, an illustrated travelogue collaboration between Will Self and Ralph Steadman. Of the book, PW says “Self is far from a reliable tour guide, but his eye for seldom-trod byways and offbeat insights make him a diverting travel companion.”
In the Boston Review, Jess Row wades – slowly, interestingly, not always coherently – into the perpetually roiling waters of Theory of the Novel, taking on the canon wars, realism vs. the avant-garde, etc. Is it really “a safe bet that your average well-informed critic today has never read a single work of criticism by a writer of color?” Probably not, even granting Row’s exception. But possibly worth arguing about. If you like that sort of thing.