In this third book as in the first two, a prodigious amount of research congregates right beneath the chatty, fast-moving surface of the plot.Read More
Lucy Hughes-Hallett comes to the world of fiction after writing nonfiction, including The Pike, a very good book about Italian writer and gold-plated weirdo Gabriele D'Annunzio. Her opulent new book Peculiar Ground, her debut work of fiction, is probably predictably steeped in history, split between two very different eras.Read More
A pseudonym, though it obscures, is not always successful as a bid for obscurity. Witness Elena Ferrante: while her work stands on its own, the added mystery of authorial absence has no doubt contributed to the years-long international firestorm of publicity and speculation.
Nevertheless, a pen name may still give personal shelter to the author who chooses it.Read More
The hardest thing about watching Norman Mailer reprise his public role as a loudmouthed buffoon is seeing the damage his performance has done to his newest novel, The Castle in the Forest. Mailer has been taking the stage in this part for, it is hard to believe, sixty years, since the publication of The Naked and the Dead in 1948. For sixty years he’s been bullying his way to the front of the proscenium and bellowing forth one self-indulgent diatribe after another. For sixty years he’s been picking fights and manufacturing front-page vendettas, refusing to allow a single cultural phenomenon to pass without weighing in, in terms sufficiently coarse and supercilious to somehow make every spectacle in part about him—and rather conveniently timing these irruptions to coincide with the publication of a new book.Read More