Thursday, July 09, 2009

New issues, frames, non-existent empires

The second issue of Daniel E. Pritchard’s Critical Flame is up. Nora Delaney looks at Mark McGurl’s Program Era, while three different reviewers examine recent fiction. Pritchard himself takes a gander at the “exciting and enjoyable” D. A. Powell’s fourth volume of poetry.

The Amateur Reader begins reading Sholem Aleichem’s Railroad Stories in which a commercial traveler listens to the tales of the passengers in a third-class Ukrainian railroad car. Ruth R. Wisse calls Aleichem’s frame stories “the natural form” of Yiddish literature, creating an “internal dialogue between Jews.”

Roberta Rood praises The Little Stranger by the compulsively readable Sarah Waters. Rood points out that the novel is 463 pages long, but consumes the reader with curiosity and becomes a “real page turner.”

Thirteen writers suggest some beach-bag stuffers in National Review Online’s annual symposium on summer reading.

Ron Slate recommends Kevin Canty’s story collection Where the Money Went. Canty tends to write about the approach of a “revelation which does not occur.” That is his book’s “secret sauce,” according to Slate.

Martin Levin explains his “mixed feelings” for Gore Vidal. He both likes and dislikes that Vidal is a “hyperarticulate critic of the excesses of the American Empire.” Ah. That explains my own 99% pure distilled hatred for Vidal’s writing. No such empire exists.

A. F. Jurek declares that blogging is dying, the victim of Twitter, Facebook, and the difficulty of doing it regularly.

The Los Angeles Times book blog Jacket Copy wishes a happy seventy-sixth birthday to Oliver Sacks.

Matthew Cheney takes seriously two new G. I. Joe books that are “media tie-ins.” “As with Bond,” he concludes, “the ideal audience seems to be adolescent heterosexual boys and maybe some lesbians. . . .”

Carrie Frye has the latest intriguing details on The Original of Laura, the novel left unfinished by Nabokov upon his death in 1977.

Vikram Johri enjoys The Link, Colim Tudge’s account of how Norwegian paleontologist Jorn Hurum acquired “Ida,” the 47-million-year-old “missing link” between primates and man.

Sam Sattler awards Ellen Feldman’s novel about the Scottsboro Boys four out of five stars. Narrated by a “desperately poor white” in Alabama, Scottsboro “makes what happened, in the context of its times, almost understandable.”

Litlove clears some books off her table before leaving for vacation.

R. T. Davis’s book blog Novels, Stories and More seems to have disappeared from the blogscape again. If anyone has heard from R. T., or has any news of him, please leave a comment.


R. T. said...

Perhaps this link will work (whereas the formerly posted link is useless):

Novels, Stories, and More

R. T. said...

Thank you for highlighting The Amateur Reader's perspective on Sholem Aleichem's RAILROAD STORIES. The posting prompts me to ask a question: Can you recommend handful of books (fiction) in which Judaism either is a central theme or is the foundational spirit the author draws upon for the book's style and tone? When making your recommendations, please consider the fact that I am not Jewish, though I have some familiarity with the faith and the culture, and I am only nominally Christian (with my childhood having been not very different than Hazel Motes' early years in WISE BLOOD), but I am quite eager to continue my explorations into the way faith and literature cooperate with each other. So, with the question proffered, I look forward to your sage suggestions.