by Nick Moran
A new number one and three books debut.0
by Jonathan Clarke
This is a rather defensive and sometimes irritable book, an act of muffled aggression by a man besieged and yet conscious of occupying a privileged position in the world.0
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“The day you follow me to that mound of oyster shells on the beach is the day I realize muscle and bone have been at war for a long, long time.” The Saturday Rumpus essay by Ashley Inguanta is tender and poetic. Some past iterations are also well-worth a revisit.
Everyone should read this extremely important interview with Matt Gallagher and Phil Klay, two talented writers who are also veterans of the Iraq war. Klay won the National Book Award in 2014 for his collection Redeployment–even Obama loved it. From drone strikes to PTSD to finding purpose after war, this interview covers a lot of bases. Phil Klay’s Year in Reading from 2014 is a little dated but worth a look.
“I always think, ‘What if I can’t?’ Then I always think, ‘Oh shit, don’t think that.’ Because thinking about it can make it happen. Not like it’s happened that often. But I get scared about it. We all do. Anybody that tells you they don’t they’re full of it. They’re always scared it might happen.” There’s a lot of really bad writing about sex. This is a piece about some of the good stuff.
Recommended Reading: Anything that Vivian Gornick writes. Here’s an essay from The New York Times on how literature ages and rereading E.M. Forster’s Howard’s End. Our own Lydia Keisling also wrote a fantastic piece on the Forster classic.
The “Millennials are ruining everything” think piece has become a bit of a trope at this point, so it’s refreshing when you find one that says something new. This piece on the serious danger of losing serious readers to their cellphone screens is well worth the read.
Recommended Reading: This love letter to Shakespeare’s Cleopatra, “the only woman in the world.” Here’s a bonus infographic that compares Cleopatra to everyone’s favorite Khaleesi, Daenerys Targaryen.
“Dear Mrs D, Thanks for your homework. Your idea of writing a Christmas ghost story was a good one, but it’s not really the kind of thing I tend to do — it’s a little bit too genre for my tastes. Try Kevin, who sits next to me. He loves that stuff.” Over at McSweeney’s, Nick Hornby advises his son on excuses for failing to hand in his English homework, excuses which Hornby learned are acceptable during a thirty-year career in journalism, books, and film.
This little bit of found poetry courtesy of the Beaufort Wind Scale and Mallory Ortberg over at The Toast will have you reading your weather reports with a fresh set of eyes. If meteorology is your thing, here’s a link to the ten best weather events in all of fiction.
Yesterday I told you about a ridiculously rare signed copy of T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, a poem famously loaded with coldness and sterility and failed human intimacy. Later this month, some new letters will be published that reveal the depth of Eliot’s mental anguish over the breakdown of his first marriage with his wife, Vivien. Eliot has long been accused (maybe fairly) of treating Vivien with intolerable cruelty and attributing to her mental state, and these letters aim to complicate that narrative.
Nobody likes to be critiqued. Lucas Gardener at The New Yorker would really like to assure all of his concerned Creative Writing workshop classmates that his most recent submission, “Creative Writing Beatdown,” is entirely fictional and has no basis in reality. Really.
It’s time to clear out a little spot on that bookshelf because this one is sure to impress your literary friends. Among a few other incredible books up for sale by a London bookseller is this copy of T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land. It is one of the original 460 copies hand printed by Virginia and Leonard Woolf, and it is signed by Eliot to the doctor who treated him at the clinic in Laussane where the poem was written. Good thing you’ve been saving up.
Recommended Reading: This review, though it is really much more than that, of Daniel Williams’ Defenders of the Unborn. Williams’ book takes a detailed look at the history of anti-abortion activism before Roe v. Wade, but more generally it seeks to complicate our entire definition of activism in the context of the pro-life/pro-choice debate.
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Read More The Millions Top 10 January 2016
Fates and Furies Lauren Groff
Purity Jonathan Franzen
Slade House David Mitchell
Fortune Smiles Adam Johnson
The Big Green Tent Ludmila Ulitskaya
The Heart Goes Last Margaret Atwood
City on Fire Garth Risk Hallberg
What Belongs to You Garth Greenwell
My Name is Lucy Barton Elizabeth Strout
A Brief History of Seven Killings Marlon James