Morris does an especially lovely job of elevating the ordinary. Men without much money or glamour to their lives smoke and drink, ride the bus, and sit home alone in the evenings; he makes it beautiful, transmuting daily existence into something gleaming and sensual the way a car’s dull steel frame shines with chrome. Morris notices a neighborhood with ‘glass glittering on the sidewalks, houses in need of paint, black bruises on the street where cars had leaked their vital fluids.’ Placing a call to Alabama, Doyle imagines ‘Rod Steiger sitting at a desk chain-smoking cigarettes and sending gouts of tobacco juice into a Maxwell House coffee can while the blades of a ceiling fan chopped the foggy air.’ One man’s face ‘sagged like a melting candle.’
There are many flavors of noir, but the one that may be the most relevant to our lives today, Julia Ingalls argues, is corporate noir, which often takes the form of science fiction. At the LARB, she writes about several examples of the genre, including Alan Glynn’s Graveland and Natsuo Kirino’s Out.
Flooded with data as we are, each day brings even more innovations and technologies to help us mine, sort, and generate even more information. Asking about the future of libraries is another way of asking where this big, hot mess of information is taking us.
The book’s central problem is that Dyer does not appear interested in the people he meets on the ship as people, but as corporeal representations of work ethic and purpose. I lost track of the references to ‘the fourteen-hour days’ that the crewmates work, but I’m pretty sure there were somewhere around fourteen. These men and women have something important to do, and Dyer doesn’t want to let you to forget it, even though you don’t get to know any of the men or women very well at all. Are any of them annoyed by the captain’s enforced cheeriness? We don’t know. Is the chef, who dreamt of becoming the chef at the White House but found her application thwarted by bureaucracy, bitter? Dyer wonders for a moment, but quickly gets distracted. The closest we come to differentiation among these people is when one man is referred as ‘more in love — if such a thing were possible — than the other people I’d met who were seriously in love with what they did.’
As in many other Western countries the ‘elite’ has become suspicious, but in Danish even ‘ambition’ has a negative connotation. When I look it up in my English dictionary, it’s associated with words like ‘achievement’ and ‘performance,’ ‘will power’ and ‘hard work;’ the examples suggest that ambition is an acceptable, or even admirable, way to achieve your goals (ambitious students; an ambitious attempt to break the record; an ambitious program to eliminate all slums). Definitions in my Danish dictionary, on the other hand, are notably different: ‘1) Which is full of ambition = desirous, pushy: an ambitious career-hunter. 2) Which requires great effort, perhaps too great: a very ambitious project, an ambitious goal.’
"In four seasons, Don’s argument on behalf of advertising has gone from There’s something missing in the world that you’re uniquely able to provide to You need something to do to occupy your time until you die on your couch.”
It wasn’t long after ‘The Beast Attacked’ (in fact it was the next night) that Iglalik told the story, ‘A Bigger Beast Attacked Me Last Week.’ Another compelling tale, even if some felt it derivative. Iglalik added three crucial elements: he made the beast bigger, he told how he felt when the beast attacked, and he told us what he did: run away. Many of us, especially the younger listeners, thrilled to the added suspense and detail.
For Austrian novelist and short story writer Stefan Zweig (1881–1942), it is precisely those Habsburgian frivolities that define Vienna’s tragedy in their presence and absence alike. If The Third Man is cynical, Zweig’s is elegiac, beckoning us into a vanished world: a world of Baronesses and bibliophiles, gamblers, and actors — all suffering from the inevitable decline of their own personal eras of innocence.
Denmark has a new superstar, and he’s a poet named Yahya Hassan. At 18, Hassan has published a poetry collection that sold 100,000 copies in three months — a figure that, in Denmark, translates to one copy for every fifty residents. At the LARB, Pedja Jurisic delves into the young poet’s incendiary politics.
At the LARB, Millions contributor Nathan Deuel reviews Silence Once Begun by Jesse Ball, which we covered as part of our Great 2014 Book Preview. Nathan calls the novel “daring and odd” and notes that, as the plot advances, “even we readers become slightly shaky witnesses.” You can learn more about Jesse Ball’s work in our own Janet Potter’sreview of his novel The Curfew.