Thursday afternoon miscellany

  • Did Thomas Pynchon post a description of his forthcoming novel on his Amazon page?
  • Scott McLemee speculates that Philip Rieff, best known as Susan Sontag’s ex-husband, may have been the model for the “modern post-religious man” Sontag denounced in Against Interpretation.
  • In a positive review of David Mitchell’s latest book, Ruth Franklin bemoans the empty, hyperbolic praise that predominates in contemporary book reviews. “[H]appy reviews are all alike. A book’s plot is engaging, the characters feel true, the writing is interesting. So what?”
  • James Hynes heralds the “macabre aura” of London’s Whitechapel and Spitalfields, working-class neighborhoods whose literary reputations have for the past thirty years revolved around Nicholas Hawksmoor and Jack the Ripper.
  • Nadya Labi revisits the would-be Harlequin romance she wrote at 16.
  • “[T]he literary anecdote is a kind of oxymoron: the unpublished truth about a man or woman who lives by publication. The anecdote catches the writer unawares and perhaps catches the writer out.”


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