When French author Michel Houellebecq was promoting his 2010 novel The Map and the Territory, winner of the prestigious Prix Goncourt, and failed to show for several appearances, the media flew into a frenzy. Some even speculated that he was kidnapped. This rumor inspired Guillaume Nicloux’s The Kidnapping of Michel Houellebecq, starring the writer as a version of himself. The film’s official US trailer debuted this week, reminding us of the many rumors that have plagued some of literature’s finest. Here are just a …Read More
The New York Times “Bookends” column asked in September whether this is a “golden age for women essayists,” as some of the most talked-about nonfiction releases of the year — Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist, Leslie Jamison’s The Empathy Exams, Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl, to start — happen to have been written by women. They’re also books that are probing, searching, and at points, confessional.
One of the things literature does better than almost any other medium is allow us to experience another person’s quality of mind, and sometimes even inhabit it. It follows, then, that every avid reader has a favorite literary character — whether they’re beloved for dastardly deeds, tough-girl antics, sex appeal, or a high snark quotient — and that there are many impossibly good ones out there. Click through to find 50 of the …Read More
As we mentioned briefly yesterday, small publisher Devault-Graves realized that the rights to three J.D. Salinger stories from the 1940s — “The Young Folks,” “Go See Eddie” and “Once a Week Won’t Kill You” — were up for grabs, so the publisher pulled off an unlikely literary coup, and purchased the rights to publish them. It’s a bold move, one that will surely net some bucks for a publisher whose stated mission is “converting backlisted books into ebooks through two imprints.” The only problem is that the stories themselves aren’t very good.
Just what is a cult novel? Well, like so many literary terms, the edges blur whenever you try to look right at them, but in the end, you sort of know one when you read one. Sometimes a cult novel is one that the critics panned but the fans love, or sometimes it’s one that both readers and critics love, but a certain contingent of readers really love. Any book with a squadron of rabid fans swearing that it changed their lives quickly seems cultish. Cult novels often come from the fringes, they often represent countercultural perspectives, they often experiment with form. Here are 50 of the …Read More
People move to New York City with big dreams every day, and My Salinger Year, Joanna Rakoff’s memoir about her job at one of the publishing industry’s oldest and most respected literary agencies, is the type of book that sums up the life a new New Yorker. There are the apartment issues, the loneliness, and the realization that the cheapest thing on the menu is too expensive. The one big difference, however, is that J.D. Salinger is a character in Rakoff’s lovely book. And while it would have been totally understandable for Rakoff to use her connection with the legendary author as the basis of her entire story, My Salinger Year is without a doubt about its author and also much more than that: it’s a book about New York, a book about an era ending in the publishing world, and the type of memoir that only a gifted writer like Rakoff could produce. When I spoke to Joanna Rakoff, she shared memories about pre-smartphone New York, how publishing has changed, AOL.com e-mail addresses, and, of course, Salinger.
A slim, carefully observed memoir about her 23rd year, Joanna Rakoff’s new book My Salinger Year may be about the time she spent as an agent’s assistant in New York City, fielding calls from J.D. Salinger and answering his never-ending avalanche of fan mail, but it’s also a very good book about being young and unsure, making dumb decisions and figuring out how to be a person.