Saturday, November 5, 2011

Me, Elsewhere

I have a review of Vivian Gornick's short biography of Emma Goldman up at the November issue of Open Letters Monthly.

In the same issue, be sure to catch Rohan Maitzen's great takedown of Jeffrey Eugenides's The Marriage Plot. It does sound pretty dreary - really, deconstruction-bashing, how novel! There's nothing worse than a novel editorializing and theorizing to you about the superiority of art to editorializing and theorizing. Well, yes, then, why don't you get on with it? Even Roth is completely dreadful when he gives in to this. Because I'm a masochist, I recently caught Sam Tanenhaus on his podcast bitching about Eugenides not being nominated for a National Book Award: as with Franzen, supposedly it's a conspiracy against "major" or "popular" authors by judges who don't recognize that books that sell can also be good. It's a clever way (well, not that clever really) to give a populist spin to a standard lament for the eclipse of your pet white males, who by definition have something big to say, no matter how parochial their subject matter. Can't it ever be that sometimes they're just not that good?

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