Hey, it’s really nice outside so I want to go walk over the Williamsburg bridge, but I actually got an email inquiring about what happened to these little roundups, and directing my attention specifically to this review of the new Ander Monson by marketing guru David Shields. Shields is ecstatic about Vanishing Point: Not a Memoir, and he left me intrigued, which is more than I can say that any of the seven hundred “think-piece”-reviews of Reality Hunger: A Manifesto did for my interest level in it–so, point for Monson, I guess. I have very good memories of Other Electricities, less good memories of Vacationland, and didn’t quite get around to reading Neck Deep, though I heard him read from / speak about that book once, and remember enjoying it–though not what I enjoyed exactly–so anyway it’s good to see something new from Monson, and maybe I’ll get around to this one. Okay, what else? Well, Walter Kirn’s got the cover story, with a take-down of the new Ian McEwan. Here’s the whole first paragraph.
According to the perverse aesthetics of artistic guilty pleasure, certain books and movies are so bad — so crudely conceived, despicably motivated and atrociously executed — that they’re actually rather good. “Solar,” the new novel by Ian McEwan, is just the opposite: a book so good — so ingeniously designed, irreproachably high-minded and skillfully brought off — that it’s actually quite bad. Instead of being awful yet absorbing, it’s impeccable yet numbing, achieving the sort of superbly wrought inertia of a Romanesque cathedral. There’s so little wrong with it that there’s nothing particularly right about it, either. It’s impressive to behold but something of a virtuous pain to read.
It goes on from there for two pages. Joe Queenan has an essay about why he won’t read books that feature sports teams he hates. Elif Batuman reviews Those Who Wait, the new novel by Olga Grushin. Anne Lamott has written another book with the word “bird” in the title. And Joseph Salvatore looks at the new Adam Thirlwell, a novel about–among other things–a geriatric libertine. Good times at the Times! And now, if you’ll excuse me–THE BRIDGE.