fiction

Giving Realism the Side-Eye: The Fiction of Diane Williams

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“Water is a burned substance.” This strange line comes from nowhere to conclude Honoré de Balzac’s “Gambara,” one of the real-est short stories I have ever read about art. And the line is made mystifying by what we call Balzac’s realism: the material descriptions, psychological observations, and sociological inventions that conspire to submerge the reader in a world with depth.
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Jakob Wassermann’s ‘My Marriage’ Is a Harrowing Magnum Opus of Matrimonial Horror

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If current trends prevail, the marriage rate in America will fall to zero by 2042. Still, when presented with such speculation, the mind drifts easily away from self-inspection toward matters of fact. The decline in marriage, some say, mirrors the decline in religious belief and its attendant institutions. Others suggests that millennials, the largest living generation, are merely waiting for better conditions to tie the knot. Another indisputable graph tells us that the rate of marriage in the 20th century is linked in some way to world wars and financial crises. We rush to marry before the war and after — it’s hard to kill and wed at the same time. And when depressions and recessions inevitably strike, we avoid the altar: we don’t say I do; or we say I don’t.
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The 50 Most Anticipated Books of 2016

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It’s far too early to have read the major book releases of 2016 — or even the likely contenders published in the first quarter of 2016 — but at this point it’s fair to say that among all of the forthcoming novels and works of nonfiction that we’re aware of, a selection of standouts has emerged.
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What Amazon’s 2015 Bestsellers Say About Us

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Well, it’s the first working day of the new year. Perhaps, then, it’s time to investigate the year that’s just passed by way of Amazon’s recently released, insensibly titled “Customer Favorites: 2015’s Top-Selling New Releases” list. Why does the fact that something sold well mean it’s a customer favorite? Can’t you buy something on a whim and hate it? But ignoring, for the moment, Amazon’s insidious conflation of consumerism and taste, there is still much to be made of its list.
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The Best Fiction of 2015

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Forget the tedium of straightforward realism, 2015 was a year when theme pushed form in daring new directions. So instead of celebrating the Big TV Novels of the American white male, we’re happy to applaud this motley group of genius fictions, books that never failed to challenge the pieties of life in the 21st century.
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Roberto Bolaño Was Terrified by the Force of Andrés Neuman’s Prose — And We Should Be Too

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Roberto Bolaño’s now-famous praise of the writer Andrés Neuman, who must have been no older than 23 when it was written, is remarkable not only for its epic pronouncements (“the literature of the 21st century will belong to Neuman and a few of his blood brothers”), but also for its fearfulness. “When I come across these young writers it makes me want to cry,” Bolaño writes. “I don’t know what the future holds for them.”
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