Also of interest…
In essays and criticism
The Source of Self-Regard
Toni Morrison “makes writing seem like an urgent calling, the most necessary of professions,” said Nilanjana Roy in the Financial Times. In this collection of 43 essays and speeches spanning her five decades as a public figure, the novelist and Nobel laureate repeatedly challenges abuses committed by the powerful, and her moral clarity shines through on every page. Though many of these pieces are familiar, they have been smartly sequenced, and “to see them collected in one place is a gift.”
The Trouble With Men
David Shields’ latest norm-shattering work “might be read as a petition for divorce,” said Blake Morrison in TheGuardian.com. Largely an open letter to his wife, it paints her as domineering and details the dynamics of their sex life, all because the author of Reality Hunger hopes to solve the puzzle of who he is by closely scrutinizing his sexual desires. He folds in commentary from literary giants as he goes, and you can’t help admiring both his openness and “his gift for collecting memorable quotations.”
Nobody’s Looking at You
Janet Malcolm has always been a “ruthlessly artful” portraitist, said Michael Upchurch in The Seattle Times. “Her magazine profiles are peerless when it comes to unraveling what makes people tick,” and she’s delivered several more in this collection of recent essays and features from The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books. Surprisingly, “she’s completely frank about it when someone is a riddle to her”—as MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow was. Even then, Malcolm is never uninteresting.
If only the world were as simple as Maria Popova portrays it, said Laura Miller in Slate.com. Popova’s popular website BrainPickings.org has for years treated readers to “short, snackable” excerpts from the works of great writers and thinkers. But her first book tries to illuminate connections between them, linking Johannes Kepler, say, to Emily Dickinson, and usually the only glue is “vaporous palaver about art, truth, beauty, and genius.” The book is “a grab bag of mildly cool factoids,” little more.