No preliminaries today because I have to survive the “workshopping” of one of my papers in a little over an hour, and I need to drink coffee and fortify myself. (Philosophy paper “workshopping” is not like creative writing “workshopping,” at least if I’m right to imagine the latter as basically cordial: philosophy “workshopping” is a bloody and brutal ordeal, more a matter of objection-raising and attacking than “workshopping” proper, not that I would want it any other way. I do oppose the use of “workshop” as a verb, but I’m too frazzled to grasp at better phrases at the moment.)
First of all, ~big news~ (I keep thinking of it as “Strange News,” the title of the manuscript that the protagonist of Norman Rush’s Mortals lugs with him through the desert for reasons too complicated to get into here):
The strange news is that I’m writing two books for Metropolitan, !!! I am too thrilled to be articulate about it!!!! Here is the announcement:
I am beyond excited, and I hope you will read my books and bear with me as I attempt to write a little bit less frenetically for magazines for a minute, despite my pathological compulsion to pitch 10000 pieces a month.
Now for everything else!
things I wrote
I wrote about Jenny Erpenbeck for the New Left Review. I like her novels a lot (I very highly recommend Visitation and The End of Days; I like Go, Went, Gone less than everyone else does, but I do think it’s worth reading, though I think it is her weakest work of fiction). I like her recent essay collection less. Nonetheless, I had a lot of fun thinking about and reading through her work: https://newleftreview.org/sidecar/posts/black-leaves
I also wrote about Joan Didion, whom (sorry!!!!!) I do not love, although I acknowledge her merits. The new collection is a mixed bag. There are some gems in it—especially a lovely essay on Hemingway—and then there are some pieces that probably went uncollected until now for a reason: https://www.the-tls.co.uk/articles/let-me-tell-you-what-i-mean-joan-didion-becca-rothfeld/
Things I recommend
If you only read one thing this week/ever, please, let it be this beautiful, moving essay by Jon Malesic in The Point: https://thepointmag.com/examined-life/unfaithful-reproductions/
I didn’t agree with everything in this piece—philosophy is totally an art!—but I enjoyed it nonetheless: https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2021/03/25/philosophy-an-art-jonathan-ree-witcraft/
And this is great: https://thebaffler.com/latest/american-gothic-mcclay
I’m behind on reading because I had A Week last week but I anticipate that this, which I will read after the workshopping, will be great because everything Kamran Javadizadeh writes is great: https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2021/04/08/john-berryman-roots-madness/
Point editors Rachel Wiseman and Anastasia Berg are writing a book about children and why people are/aren’t having them; here’s a survey you could fill out if you wanted to help them with research: https://forms.gle/afB8tdico9YwZhV38
Now off to be workshopped/attacked/objected to! xoxo