Yesterday I quoted Rebecca West’s 1914 essay, “The Duty of Harsh Criticism,” which was recently republished by–and, they say, will serve as the guiding principles of–The New Republic‘s new longform web literary review, The Book. The site is already packed with stuff, and you can expect to hear more about them from me in the future, but here are some starting-points for you: Isaac Chotiner explains the purpose and ethos of The Book; Michael Kimmage considers The Conservative Turn: Lionel Trilling, Whittaker Chambers, and the Lessons of Anti-Communism; Leon Wieseltier on the new Philip Roth; Tom Bissell on Elizabeth Fraterrigo’s book about Playboy; and a TNR Classic: Edmund Wilson’s “Meditations on Dostoyevsky.”
Did you know that Believer editor Andrew Leland keeps a blog? Well, since the predictive text function on this blogger page seems to remember the address I just typed into the link-maker, maybe the answer is yes. But whether you’ve been there before or not, the real question, as I see it, is have you been there lately? Don’t miss “Pure Gesture,” a recent poem, or “acting bonkers is a calmative,” which is actually from late ’08 but so?
The Guardian has an interview with Sir Frank Kermode.
Neil Genzlinger, the Times critic who last week made me so angry I held a porn contest in his name [UPDATE: and later deleted, out of a belated and therefore probably worthless attack of the common decencies, but still], is in the Book Review this weekend, considering David Thomson’s book about the significance of Psycho. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Genzlinger comes out against significance. Elsewhere in (Electric) Gray Ladyland, Jay McInerney is unimpressed by the new Joshua Ferris, Motoko Rich has an interesting piece on Kindle books that become “best-sellers” because they are being given away for free, and there’s a huge profile of Army of One (plus a handful of “co-writers” and three full-time Little, Brown employees) James Patterson.
And last but not least (except probably it is, in fact, least), Sydney [Australia] Morning Herald food critic Simon Webster uses my “Anonymous book review” piece from the most recent Believer to frame a piece of his own about restaurant reviewing. How cool is that? Webster imagines that if restaurant reviewers ate their meals without the narrative context of the restaurant/owner/hype/etc itself, “the Sydney restaurant scene would be turned on its head.” Which is what I’ve been saying it needs for years now! But seriously, thanks for the notice, Simon–it’s glad to know you, and cheers!