At the New York Times, Elizabeth Acevedo discusses her current reading habits, as well as following the whims of your taste when it comes to reading choices. “I find ultimate delight when a story is matched by equally riveting language,” Acevedo says, “but people read like they eat: Sometimes we want comfort, sometimes we want to work to crack something open. And so I know that the writing pivots I might dislike are someone else’s bonbons.”
Out this week: The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman; The Kills by Richard House; When the World Was Young by Elizabeth Gaffney; Secrets of the Lighthouse by Santa Montefiore; The Scatter Here is Too Great by Bilal Tanweer; Ride Around Shining by Chris Leslie-Hynan; Painted Horses by Malcolm Brooks; The Liar’s Wife by Mary Gordon; The Dog by Jack Livings; Bluff City Pawn by Stephen Schottenfeld; Beneath the Neon Egg by Thomas E. Kennedy; 2 A.M. at The Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino; and Bad Feminist by Year in Reading alum Roxane Gay, who also came out with a novel a few months ago.
“What [Vladimir] Nabokov is actually doing in Lolita is deliberately drawing on all manner of anti-Semitic propaganda, from The Protocols of the Elders of Zion to Nazi caricatures of the Jewish ‘type,’ to create in Humbert Humbert the anti-Semitic cliché of legend, rather as, say, Chaucer draws on medieval misogynist writings to create in the figure of the Wife of Bath the archetypal shrew of his male audience’s nightmares.”
There is going to be a documentary about Joan Didion. We repeat: a documentary about Joan Didion. This is not a drill. Watch the opening trailer and consider donating to the Kickstarter campaign here, and be sure to read our own Michael Borne‘s review of Blue Nights and S.J. Culver‘s Millions essay on “Getting Out: Escaping with Joan Didion.”
A couple weeks ago, I wrote about this year’s Brandeis commencement, at which New Republic editor Leon Wieseltier argued that the humanities are under siege in America. In this week’s issue of Prospect Magazine, Malcolm Nicholson interviews Wieseltier, who claims that “we live in a culture of worthless praise.”
Nell Zink, whose second novel comes out next week, has one of the lit world’s more unusual origin stories. An expat in Germany, she wrote her first novel in three weeks, after striking up a friendship over email with Jonathan Franzen. In the latest New Yorker, Kathryn Schulz details her story in full. You could also read Emily Gould’s recommendation of her work for Year in Reading.
From Letters of Note, the correspondence between Fitzgerald and his editor upon the former’s completion of The Great Gatsby (including Fitzgerald’s suggestion for an alternative title: Gold-hatted Gatsby). In response to the many endings of A Farewell to Arms, Slate cooks up 48 canned, alternative endings for Fitzgerald’s masterpiece.