Tuesday Tidbits

Here’s a little link love for y’all on this hot and humid Tuesday:

  • Big BrotherLionel Shriver’s new novel, Big Brother, is getting mixed reviews. The book is a fictionalized account of Shriver’s struggle to “rescue” her obese brother, who died of a heart attack in 2009 (just days after Shriver published this article about their relationship). It sounds like a… tricky subject for a novel, and reactions to the book have been decidedly mixed. While the Telegraph’Elena Seymenliyska gives Big Brother high marks for originality and sensitivity, John Crace of the Guardian takes great delight in skewering it in six-hundred acerbic words, and Zoe Williams calls it “more an exorcism of guilt than a functioning novel.” Meanwhile, the Independent’s Carole Angier declares that while Shriver is “wonderful at the things she is always wonderful at,” like pace and plot, the novel’s unreliable narrator is ultimately “annoying” and self-defeating. As always, such conflicting reviews make me extra keen to read the novel myself and pick a side. (BTW, this review in the Age wins the Best Title award.)
  • In an essay in the Guardian, Kathryn Heyman asks why there are so few women in the London Review of Books and is told by the Review’s editors that… it’s complicated. Hardly, she retorts:

By publishing a literary journal with about 70% male contributors in every edition, the implicit message is that male writing is better than female writing. If you believe this to be the case, have the courage of your convictions and admit it, so that we can acknowledge what the argument really is. If however, you believe that women writers are equal to male writers, then try harder. It isn’t complicated. It’s simple.

  • Want to save yourself the price of a movie ticket? Avoid Sofia Coppola’s latest deep-as-an-eyeshadow-pan music video movie, The Bling Ring, and instead check out Nancy Jo Sales’ “The Suspects Wore Louboutins,” the Vanity Fair essay on which the movie is based. (Fun fact: the burglarizing brats had to break into Paris Hilton’s house five times before she noticed anything was missing.)
  • KanyeKanye West uttered some sublime nonsense in the New York Times a couple of weeks ago; this slideshow reminds us he has been full of (genius) wind for a long, long time. As the Man himself says, “Damn Ye, it’d be stupid to diss you / Even your superficial raps is super-official.”
  • In the Philadelphia Review of Books, esteemed Malvern pal Lee Klein has published a thoughtful review of the second volume in Karl Ove Knausgaard’s six-volume My Struggle series. I’m halfway through the book and finding it every bit as riveting and astounding as its predecessor.