jan kjærstad, the discoverer
“And I was to chart the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein’s movements in and around Skjolden. In the course of this work I found myself one afternoon on the hill above Einsvatnet, sitting by the foundations of his cottage ‘Østerrike.’ As I leafed through the fragmentary writings in Philosophische Untersuchungen, I was suddenly struck by the similarity of the project on which...
"Criticism and reviews are both meta-forms–if they... →
“The fact is, you’d never know you were done till your feet touched the silt.” This book, and especially this scene at the end of the novel, works because of understatement, like a thoroughly extended New Yorker story that’s sloughed off most of its preciousness and UpperEastSideyness. Wildgen’s events (plot points seems too strong a term) are overstated, colorful...
Maybe he remembered these moments, maybe he didn’t. Greta did, and it...– Michelle Wildgen, But Not For Long | Thomas Dunne Books / St. Martin’s Press 10.13.09
michelle wildgen, but not for long
“Karin drove through the flat fields that surrounded the city. The first miles of Madison’s east side and just beyond it were the worst: a combination of new sprawl and seventies prefab buildings, age showing in the dated bubble-lettered signs above them. By July the fields would be a sere, urinous gold; in the winter the brown grass often showed though the patches of blowing snow like...
If there were a Tony Wilson of publishing, you bet... →
Perkus held to one ethos above all, a standard drawn from early drug episodes,...– Jonathan Lethem, Chronic City | Doubleday 10.13.09
Question: does it signify something that Pynchon put out his much-praised dope-heavy latest pretty much at the same time Lethem recycles Pynchon’s conspiracy-and-paranoia plotting through pot? For that matter, set alongside Jess Walter’s recession-plus-pot novel, and it seems like we’ve got a pretty clear drug of choice for the moment.
“My eyes fell to the rows of Lucite boxes, with their gloriously ugly multicolored font: URBAN JUNGLE, TIGER’S CLAW, GIANT PAW PRINT. SABER TOOTH, these nestled in alongside CHRONIC and the other usual names. Watt noticed me looking. ‘Kind of a craze lately,’ he said, with the air of one making a helpless excuse. ‘Can’t sell enough, which just goes to show, you...
jonathan lethem, chronic city
“‘Man is born free,’ Perkus offered, ‘and everywhere is in chain stores.’” This is the kind of stoner glibness that the NYT uncharitably dinged. But it does just clank. Doubleday 10.13.09
To live in Manhattan is to be persistently amazed at the worlds squirreled...– Jonathan Lethem, Chronic City | Doubleday 10.13.09
“And relax he did, even though she’d had more sexual partners over the years than Menudo had members, and in 1991, people still thought AIDS could be transmitted by teardrops. (Later that year, Magic Johnson would come down with HIV, and Freddie Mercury would die from its complications.)” But it is very important to realize, when reading Totally Killer, that the story is set in...
greg olear, totally killer
“‘Talentless hacks, the lot of them.’ Asher plopped a piece of mushroom into his mouth, chewed, and swallowed, as she hung on his every word. ‘It’s the baby boomers, turned them into gods. The apotheosis of John, Paul, George, and Ringo. They bought all their albums, they packed the stadiums, they were the target audience — and they still are. Them — not...
“I had been expecting some irrefutable line of reasoning, an alchemy of complex arguments, devastating revelations about a worldwide conspiracy against the German people, a chain reaction linking one chapter to the next, extraordinary circumstances skillfully orchestrated, I had expected Satan to have penned certain passages supplying the ink and the details and the rest of it. But there was...
boualem sansal, the german mujahid
“The only thing that changed was when the jihadists started showing up. It’s something to do with the war in Algeria, apparently, or the war in Kabul or the middle east or I don’t know where. They use France as a safe haven, as a base for operations, whatever the reason they’re here, they’ve fucked everything up for everyone, that’s why we’re wandering...
I can say that there’s definitely something wrong with the American short...– John Barry, “Dead End,” Baltimore City Paper, 09.23.09
“It turns out that I’m not guilty of the crime I went to prison for. You know, I was in a blackout, so I never knew what actually happened, but it’s come out that I wasn’t driving the car when those two people were killed. Ava ran up and clasped her mother’s legs. March glanced down at her daughter and held up a finger — time out! — to Patsy. Ava,...
michelle huneven, blame
“Oh, officially, I suppose. In the most acute sense, The official debt-to-society sense. And it really is punishment. Especially for anyone like you or me raised in middle class privilege. So filthy and loud and ugly. But you don’t deal with why you’re there, except maybe with the state shrink who’s a different person every month. Basically, you sit around. Or in fire camp,...
Generosity” is a slimmer, hastier, more crowd-pleasing book than anything Powers...– James Wood, in the New Yorker, less polite than I’ve been. Also, pretty well dead-on, and I’m no great fan of Wood’s.
“Russell comes alert when Kurton invokes the uses of literature. ‘For most of human history, when existence was too short and bleak to mean anyting, we needed stories to compensate. But now that we’re on the verge of living the long, pain-reduced, and satisfying life that our brains deserve, it’s time for art to lead us beyond noble stoicism. ‘In short: if it’s...
Sexual selection, the surest and most venerable form of eugenics, has molded us...– Richard Powers, Generosity
richard powers, generosity: an enhancement
“He knows this story. You know this story: Thassa will be taken away from him. Other interests will lay claim. His charge will become public property. He might have kept quiet and learned from her, captured her in his journal, shared a few words at the end of his allotted four months, then returned to real life, lightly changed. A vaguely mid-list literary story. But he’s doomed...