The New York Times Book Review is modernizing under the editorship of Pamela Paul, who was appointed to the positon in early April. The section announced three changes in a new column in this Sunday’s issue (it was posted online today). Starting this weekend, the e-book bestseller list, which first joined the printed list in early 2011, will be online only. Additionally, book prices will no longer be included for any books. Read More
On the Trail of the Next Great Crime Novel: After ‘Dragon Tattoo,’ Will Readers Flock to a More Exotic Noir?
Detective Fabio Montale is having a rough week. His best friends are dead, he keeps getting beaten up, and his city is descending into, as the title of the novel he stars in suggests, Total Chaos. But he still has time for a little bass. Fennel-stuffed and grilled, maybe, with a lasagna sauce and peppers, “gently fried.” Some friends are coming over for pastis and Lagavulin and gin rummy by the sea, and they expect the copper to cook.
“I was finally calming down,” Montale thinks. “Cooking had that effect on me. My mind could escape the twisted labyrinth of thought and concentrate on smells and tastes. And pleasure.”
In 2011, Janet Malcolm underwent the literary rite of a Paris Review interview. As part of its tradition, the magazine permits interview subjects to reread and revise their words: they have an impressive degree of control over their self-presentation, which presumably makes the whole exercise more appealing. Often the effect is of a long chat on a porch in the Berkshires between an elder statesman and a respectful apprentice, who nods sagely at the importance of rising early to write.
But most interview subjects have not spent their careers contemplating the treachery of the interview. Most interview subjects have not made their names dissecting flattering self-presentation. Most interview subjects are not Janet Malcolm.
There are readers who will never pick up a copy of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah (Knopf, 496 pp., $26.95), perhaps scared off by the premise—a Nigerian couple whose love for one another is dwarfed by their infatuation for Anglo and American culture—or from reading the blurb by Dave Eggers on the back cover (“Adichie paints on a grand canvas, boldly and confidently,” etc.). It does not scream “beach book.”
James C. Goodale, the so-called “father of reporters’ privilege” and the author of a new book called Fighting for the Press (CUNY Journalism Press, 255 pp., $20), was in his office at the Debevoise & Plimpton law firm, where he’s a partner, comparing Barack Obama to Richard M. Nixon.
“Nixon and Agnew were like Read More
Born in 1915, Saul Bellow published his first novel, Dangling Man, in 1944. He would go on to write 18 books of fiction (14 novels, four story collections) which between them would win him the Pulitzer Prize (Humboldt’s Gift, 1975), a record-setting three National Book Awards (The Adventures of Augie March, 1953; Herzog, Read More
André Aciman would seem a prototypical ambassador of learned neither-here-nor-thereness, an Alexandrian Jew whose output as a novelist of nostalgia rivals his stature as a scholar of Proust. But if his well-received 1994 memoir Out of Egypt stood apart as a personal-political lament, Harvard Square, a semiautobiographical work of fiction, deals with an altogether different sort of longing.
The New York Times is looking for some New York-based authors to feature in their “Sunday Routine” column, where “prominent New Yorkers recount their weekend rituals.” Nice to know that writers are still considered prominent New Yorkers!
In 2007, The New Yorker art critic Peter Schjeldahl gave a talk at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago in which he said that the hosting city was “a great place to be, if you have a particular reason.” He went on to call Chicago one of the “great receptor cities of the world” for all the artistic talent it sends to other places, maybe not realizing he had opened up old wounds inflicted by another New Yorker writer nearly 55 years earlier when the late A.J. Liebling proclaimed Chicago the “Second City,” behind Mr. Liebling’s hometown of New York. The most recent New York media potshot at Chicago was by Rachel Shteir, an ex-New Yorker and current Chicagoan, in a recent New York Times Book Review piece, “Chicago Manuals.” Ms. Shteir, who claimed not to be “some latter-day A.J. Liebling” in her attack on the city she has called home for the last 13 years, pointed out Chicago’s many faults, from rampant gun violence to the nation’s second-highest combined sales tax and the clear lines of segregation that zip through its neighborhoods. (Ms. Shteir’s review generated titanic reaction from the media in Chicago, all of it wounded, which pretty much proved her point; she wrote about the experience for the Observer.) I left Chicago over a decade ago, but I still recognize these problems in my beloved hometown. And yet I wondered what city doesn’t have a laundry list of specific failings.
Thomas Dyja, a Chicago native, doesn’t set out to change the view of contemporary Chicago with his latest book, The Third Coast. Instead, the book charts “When Chicago Built the American Dream” through a detailed look at postwar Chicago and how the Second City changed the course of America for good.
Early in Pacific, the sequel to Tom Drury’s brilliantly deadpan 1994 novel The End of Vandalism, a character finally makes it out of Stone City, the Midwestern hamlet that serves as the backdrop for both books. On a bus ride through present-day Los Angeles, the character observes (or is observed observing): “Palm trees listed south, leaves fluttering in the wind. The Chateau Marmont rose above trees. He knew it was important but not why.”