At the Paris Review, Namwali Serpell reflects on the lasting legacy of Toni Morrison’s landmark novel, Sula. “The paradox of Sula is that she’s quintessentially herself—nobody is like her—but she’s also everybody we know who is like that,” Serpell writes. “This paradox takes shape in different ways in Sula, in the novel’s preoccupations with ironic oppositions, with how the individual self-relates to the collective, with the dynamic relation between order and disorder. As is Morrison’s tendency, all aspects of the novel—I am drawn in this writing to its names—flow through these interlocking thematic valves, coordinating like an intricate machine or body.”
The saying goes that “the road to hell is paved with adverbs,” but at Beyond the Margins Robin Black makes the opposite argument. “I want you to love adverbs,” she begins, but “more than that, I want you to believe, as I do, that adverbs are the part of speech that best captures the human condition.”
“Your shipment of personal copies will never arrive. Your publisher will not be able to track their fate, nor replace them. A week will pass and you will wander into the animal shelter at a nearby strip mall and find a dog cage lined with the urine-soaked pages of your book. Your eyes will meet the eyes of the miniature schnauzer that resides in your shredded work. You’ll think: this is fate. But the adoption center won’t approve your application because you can’t claim any substantial income.” Electric Literature has compiled the “The Ten Ways Your Life Will Change After You Publish Your First Book,” so you can’t say you weren’t warned.
Martin Amis’ The Pregnant Widow is out today (Kakutani sez, “remarkably tedious” but The Guardian adds, “Amis might draw comfort from the long and distinguished list of Kakutani’s literary victims.”) Also out, Sebastian Junger’s War, the result of time spent embedded with a platoon of the 173rd Airborne brigade in Afghanistan.
This essay from Adrian Barnes at The Daily Beast on cancer and fiction and how the two mirror one another is eerie and fascinating. This review of Rebecca Solnit’s The Faraway Nearby from The Millions addresses this tendency of writing and real world illnesses to feed of of one another.