A behind-the-scenes look at what Public Books editors and staff have been reading this month.
Does loving a work of literature mean seizing it? How should critics feel about their feelings toward a text?
“She wanted people to be curious and take action in their lives. Not be sheep. To find the ways we can work together in crisis.”
Agatha Christie’s “At Bertram’s Hotel” allows us to have our nostalgic cake and read it too.
“The novel loves things. It loves money. It loves disappointment.”
Novelist Jesmyn Ward is known for historical grandiosity, but her long-overlooked book “Sing, Unburied, Sing” turns away from realism into the realm of generic strangeness.
“I don't really want to write about theory, but it just keeps coming up again and again. It's inescapable.”
“I am paralyzed by the infinite degrees of freedom that you start out with, and so constraints can be freeing. To say, I can start here—I'm writing a story about time travel.”
“I'm aware, as I'm writing, that I'm changing camera angles.”
“A lot of people have been pushed a little closer to the margins.”
“Few libraries list it among their holdings, and sometimes I have wondered if the book in my possession actually exists.”
“If you’re going to write in a worthwhile way about something, you have to really understand why you care.”
“The first thing he said is, ‘Don't call me Mr. Baldwin. My name is Jimmy.’ I thought, this is ridiculous, at the very least he's James.”
Latin American authors must defer to “Latin America”—as imagined by centers of literary power—to be translated, to sell, to make money.
There are so many utopias. Could one be a small collective of nuns, performing their chores, far from the disasters of the 12th century?
Very much against the grain of most standard leftist work, “Daughter of Earth” remains unsettled and unsettling throughout.
Between the lines, Cervantes critiqued the Catholic church, and lamented over the systematic destruction of Islamic culture in Spain.
“One way to think about the act of annotating is that you are that meddlesome party gossip, telling the reader how to draw connections between the different parts of the text.”
Few novels are so crammed with invention. Yet the interlocking richness of her ideas does not derail your reading.
If memory is an unreliable narrator, how can it be the medium through which we arrive at the truth about ourselves?