The Trajectory of Dreams is a wholly original and fearlessly dark novel, an interesting combination of psychological thriller and character study. In Lela White, Wolverton has created one of the most haunting unreliable narrators I’ve ever come across. Lela’s illness is a curtain between herself and the world. She can see through only dimly. She feels and sees things others don’t — “A howling rose out of the pavement and wound around my ankles” — and Wolverton is at her best in her depiction of the queasy mismatch between Lela’s perceptions and what the reader knows or suspects to be true.
I’d say Wolitzer has written ‘a novel of ideas’ if said novel weren’t so engaging. (In my household, the phrase, “a novel of ideas,” is followed by an eye-roll. Such books are made for humorless people who don’t like television, candy, and/or dancing.) I read the book in four days, hushing anyone who tried to speak to me as I finished a paragraph or chapter, and laughing aloud at various cafes (yeah, I became that person).
“As I read its final lines, declarative and profound and true, I felt mournful. The book — this book! — was over. I closed the novel and wondered if I could write a book this big, this ballsy. I imagined Ms. Wolitzer behind an imposing mahogany desk, quill in hand. ‘Why not?’ she said to me, and smiled. Yes, why not?”
Sing It, Sister! On Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings by Edan Lepucki
“I suppose the truth is I became a little self-conscious about people telling me how much they loved my sentences,” says James Salter in his interview with Jonathan Lee. “It’s flattering, but it seemed to me that this love of sentences was in some sense getting in the way of the book itself.”
“Imaginary Oklahoma” writes Oklahoman writer James McGirk, “is an anthology of forty-six writers’ attempts to envision Oklahoma without ever having visited America’s forty-sixth state.”
“It was only when Kushner started writing her book that she made a discovery that is vital to any novelist trying to spin fiction out of historical events: the great danger is emptying your notebook, becoming lulled by your research into forgetting that novels are, first and last, works of the imagination.”
Rachel Kushner Is Well On Her Way to Huge by Bill Morris
“Are you experiencing any of the following: (1) A thirst for palinka? (2) A yearning for Budapest, though the closest you’ve ever come is the Hungarian Pastry Shop in Manhattan? (3) An urge to deploy diacritical marks over every other vowel? If so, you may be suffering from Hungarophilia.”
Ghosts of Budapest by Garth Risk Hallberg
There is a certain type of book, well-represented in 20th- and 21st-century American literature, that is about Men Handling Things. I can’t define the precise requirements of this genre, but I know that I’ve read this type of book many times over, by anyone from Fitzgerald and Hemingway to the Richards Yates and Ford. And let me be clear, I’ve just named four of my favorite authors. I’m not going to rant against Men Handling Things novels. I mean to say that there are a lot of them.
“I can’t say whether I was enjoying the book itself or just the true American, grand tradition of it all. Surely I’m reading a great book, I thought, a rich man with a diamond watch is staring at the ocean while his son looks on and doubts it all!”
Men Handling Things: On Stuart Nadler’s Wise Men by Janet Potter