Skepticism seems to be a natural by-product of literary nonfiction. Today we tend to think of ourselves as uniquely cynical.
What makes a dystopia? Must evil be its driving force, or could there be a less sinister foundation, akin to a dysfunctional family gone awry?
My interest is in addressing the writer Jean Thompson and her work at present, but one is immediately confronted with the question of where to begin.
Matthew Vollmers essay collection reads more like a group of experiments in form and narrative structure than one of essays
A couple of years ago, Janet Malcolm accompanied Thomas Struth, the German photographer, to a shoot at a solar panel factory near Dresden. Malcolm was eager to watch Struth at work; she was profiling him for the New Yorker, where she has written since 1963. But as the day stretched on, Struth became so absorbed in the project that he neglected Malcolm, stranding her at the facility long after they were set to leavea rare slight from a normally considerate man. Eventually, she rather crossly took a taxi back to the city.
If anthropologists are right that culture is transmitted principally through the family, then childhood games are as much a part of culture as the novel, the modern manifestation of which was first elaborated by Cervantes between the end of the 16th century and beginning of the 17th. When game and novel come together, the results can be dazzling, as in Julio Cortázars Hopscotch, or belabored, as in Arturo Pérez Revertes mystery, The Flanders Panel. Lotería, the promising first novel by Mario Alberto Zambrano, falls somewhere between these two extremes, though it spends a lot more time dazzling us than boring us.
The central thesis of Douglas Hofstadter and Emmanuel Sanders massive new tome, Surfaces and Essences: Analogy as the Fuel and Fire of Thinking, is as follows: the spotting of analogies pervades every moment of our thought constituting thoughts core...we swim nonstop in an ocean of small, medium-sized, and large analogies, ranging from mundane trivialities to brilliant insights. Dredging up the past to compare it with a present circumstance requires an analogyit is nothing if not analogy.
Michael Paternitis The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the Worlds Greatest Piece of Cheese is a story about the importance of stories. The title promises action, a plotperhaps a romance, an affair, a retaliatory act of violence or sabotage, all inspired, strangely, by a particularly delicious piece of dairy food. But there is little action, at least in the present tense.
Astragal, one of Sarrazins two autobiographical novels written in jail, was first published in 1965 in France to great commercial success. Sarrazin became an immediate celebrity and the book found a tentative place in a literary tradition headed by Jean Genet, the archetypal rogue writer. But by the mid-70s Sarrazin was no longer being read; her work was relegated to the confines of scholarly appraisals, which focused on Sarrazins representation of the female prison experience.
A bristling yet alluring doohickey, ostensibly about a week away from the workaday world, Gabe Durhams Fun Camp also signals the end for one of American publishings finest escapes from the ordinary.
These seven stories all take place in the familiar terrain of a home or a college campus and orbit such topics as infidelity, obligation, spirituality, and the often-deceptive nature of appearances. But these everyday aspects are just the surface layer of Lees stories, a thin veil over the more unusual circumstances lurking underneath.