Tom Wolfe, known as much for his personal as his narrative style, died on Monday of this week, reports The New York Times. An author of both critically and commercially acclaimed fiction — The Bonfire of the Vanities — and non-fiction — The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test — Wolfe was a mandarin of the New Journalism style that first became ascendant in the 1960s. Several of his books (including Vanities and The Right Stuff, about the early days of the U.S. space program) also became successful films. We reviewed Wolfe's 16th book, The Kingdom of Speech, in 2016, as well as his 2012 novel Back to Blood, noting that in classic Wolfe-ian form, the latter "is obsessed with cultural abrasion, with the way different classes and races vie for power."
It's that time of year again – our good friends at The Morning News are back with their annual epic, the Tournament of Books! Head over to TMN now to read round 1, which pits award season favorite Lincoln in the Bardo against Samantha Schweblin's Fever Dream (and read our own review of George Saunders's much-lauded novel here).
“He was a glutton for books who treated each text as a plate he was required to clean.” Author and critic William Gass died this week at 93, reports The Washington Post. The recipient of three National Book Critics Circle awards for criticism and four Pushcart prizes, Gass was awarded the PEN/Nabakov Award for lifetime achievement in 2000. See our reviews of Middle C, a novel that took Gass almost 20 years to finish, and his most recent essay collection Life Sentences, which amply demonstrated his background as “a former philosophy professor, but more appropriately a philosopher of the word and an esthete.” We were also lucky enough to have him pen a Year in Reading entry for us back in 2009: “I miss the leisure that let me read just for fun, not to critique, or pronounce, or even to put on a list, but simply to savor,” Gass lamented. Nonetheless, he continued,“I do, from time to time, pick up old friends who never disappoint but will promise me a page or two of pleasure between art and ordinary life.”
"It only took me 10 years to get the verb tenses right!" Our own Garth Risk Hallberg reflects on the process of updating his debut novella, A Field Guide to the North American Family, recently reissued in a new edition by Knopf. See also: our interview with him on the occasion of the release of his blockbuster City on Fire.
“[A]n audio odyssey through fiction, archival tape, interviews, and late nights with the likes of James Baldwin, Dorothy Parker, and the cutting-edge writers of our time. Featuring readings from LeVar Burton, Stockard Channing, Jesse Eisenberg, Marc Maron, Eileen Myles, David Sedaris, Dick Cavett, Dakota Johnson, and more!” Did you know The Paris Review has a new podcast? See also: our interview with current TPR editor Lorin Stein.
“Echoes are etched into the pages thanks to margin-scrawled notes, a yellowed coffee splatter or sticky peanut-butter-and-jelly fingerprints.” In her project “Expired,” photographer Kerry Mansfield documents the life of library books. We suggest pairing The Guardian's gallery of her photos with our own Jacob Lambert's “Open Letter to the Person Who Wiped Boogers on My Library Book.”
An international group of forensic experts studying the poet Pablo Neruda's remains, which were ordered exhumed in 2013, says he didn't die of cancer, as the Nobel laureate's official cause of death states. The question remains: was he poisoned? And if you want to see how Neruda lived, perhaps you might enjoy this tour of writers' houses.
“We break down thirty-nine literary journals and well-respected periodicals, tallying genre, book reviewers, books reviewed, and journalistic bylines to offer an accurate assessment of the publishing world.” This year's VIDA Count is out.
“In the new environment, science fiction writers needed new formulas – or even better, needed to have the courage to operate without pre-cooked recipes of any sort. In short, science fiction needed to grow up and take on the adult world, in all its messiness and uncertainty.” Ted Gioia pens a paean to sci-fi writers of the 1960s. Among his recommendations (including a reading list of 64 works): Camp Concentration by Thomas M. Disch, whose larger oeuvre is considered here.