Here’s what I do need, in a “capital-B Bar” and in all things really: openness. I want it to feel like it’s okay with the establishment that I’m not trying to look like a woman on the cover of a magazine when I walk inside. Actually, you know, let’s dial it down a little further: I want it to feel okay that I didn’t brush my hair. I think I’ve always had my hair brushed when I’ve gone to Raccoon’s, but that’s not the point. They would serve me with non-brushed hair. They would serve me with day-old mascara that is smudged all over my eyes. In fact, this would allow me to make a joke about the affinity of my own appearance and that of their namesake animal mascot, allow me to bond with Raccoon’s even further. I should add that their karaoke experience is unafraid of the tambourine—there’s usually one there for you to shake the hell out of. It’s just another indicator that you don’t have to hold back when you’re inside.
"The voice at the center of Bright Lights, Big City may be spoiled and petulant, but it also is unmistakably American: fatally romantic, distrustful of authority, and democratic to a fault, even as it sounds its barbaric yawp over the rooftop parties of the world.” Our own Michael Bourne on Jay McInerney’s novel of the eighties.
Tuesday New Release Day
Girls creator Lena Dunham’s first book is on shelves, as is the new short story collection by Man Booker laureate and recent Millions interviewee Hilary Mantel. Also out: On Immunity by Eula Biss; A Sudden Light by Garth Stein; Consumed by the filmmaker David Cronenberg; The Ploughmen by Kim Zupan; and The Zone of Interest by Martin Amis. For more on these and other titles, check out our Great 2014 Book Preview. Support The Millions: Bookmark this linkand start there when you shop at Amazon.
Michael Robbins is our contemporary poet laureate for beautiful sins of language. The New Republic calls Robbins a prankster. He rather reminds me of that whiskey priest, his lines by turns abrasive and aphoristic, but never apathetic.
I am going to try to convince you that The Novel is one of the most important works of both literary history and criticism to be published in the last decade, surpassing even such monumental works as Greil Marcus and Werner Sollors’s A New Literary History of America and John Sutherland’s The Lives of the Novelists. The reason Schmidt’s book is so effective and important has to do with its approach, its scope, and its artistry, which all come together to produce a book of such varied usefulness, such compact wisdom, that it’ll take a lot more than a few reviews to fully understand its brilliant contribution to literary study.
"If Michon’s imaginative exercise demonstrates anything, it’s that language can indeed hold its own against the vibrant swirl of Van Gogh’s brushstrokes.” Our own Matt Seidel reviews Alessandro Baricco's Mr. Gwyn and the art of literary portraiture.
The United States has not developed a spy-novel nationalism able to stand on its own two feet.
"I might have a bizarre sense of beauty, but my disease feels beautiful to me. It feels powerful.” Magdalena Edwards writes about the work of Raúl Zurita.
To give a brief, vague summary, this book is about a girl born into a diseased situation — literally and metaphorically — and how she uses her sexuality to cope with it. The sentences remain broken and inarticulate throughout the novel, even after the narrator is born, grows up, and comes of age. This novel does not shy away from the world’s cruelty. There were times when I had to look away from the page despite the opaque-ness of the prose. There were times when I was worried for the physical well being of the narrator. There were times when I had to disengage from the story, because the scenes of abuse and violence were too harsh. It’s not the kind of book that makes you cry; it’s the kind of book that shakes you up. While reading this novel, I had several dreams about terrible things happening to my son. Yes, this book actually gave me nightmares. And yet I did not want to stop reading it.