How Jane Austen’s Last Completed Novel Blows Up the Romantic Comedy
An analysis by Tom Storch
Jane Austen is a paradoxical figure. She died in 1817, yet her work is still widely read and frequently adapted. She blurs the line between realism and genre fiction. She is a master of the marriage plot, but she creates characters with such psychological specificity, that their actions always seem organic. It makes it possible not to notice when Austen uses these characters to execute dramatic conventions. She is an incisive and hilarious writer, however at the same time a sense of sadness and repercussion underlie the humor. While an Austen novel guarantees all the trappings of a romantic comedy, she also uses the genre as a means to explore the serious issues of real life. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Persuasion, Austen’s last complete novel, published five months after her death (It also seems to be having something of a moment—there are two movies and a play in the works).
The Self and Community Consciousness in Edouard Louis’ End of Eddy
A recommendation by Walker Minot
The title character of The End of Eddy is Eddy Bellegueule, or Eddy “beautiful face,” born in a provincial working-class town near Amiens, in the north of France. He is an effeminate, gay child with a strange voice and interests in dance and women’s clothing, so out of place amongst the hulking men who brawl, seek to conquer women, and work at the local factories (of which there are fewer every day). “Today I’m gonna be a tough guy,” he repeats to himself as a kind of prayer, in his head, out loud, in front of the mirror in the mornings, hoping to transform his nature.
Advice That Never Grows Old, A Review of 1949’s The Human Nature of Playwriting by Samson Raphaelson
A recommendation by Nina Semczuk
The best books about writing combine craft practicalities—such as the necessity of rewrites—with a down-to-earth, encouraging spirit, and my favorites include a dash of memoir. Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird and Stephen King’s On Writing come to mind as exemplars of this tricky mix.
Revisiting My Year of Rest and Relaxation in a Post Quarantine World
A recommendation by Walker Minot
My Year of Rest and Relaxation (2018) is the second-most recent novel by the Jewish-Iranian-American writer Ottessa Moshfegh. It became her breakout book, following the modest commercial and impressive critical successes of her earlier works Eileen, McGlue and Homesick for Another World. The novel is set in 2000 and 2001 in New York City, a time when the DVD was supplanting the VHS tape, when the World Trade Center had twin towers and when the phrase “punk, but with money” described bits and pieces of Manhattan rather than much of the island below 96th Street.
An interview by Tom Storch
In his 2018 debut novel, Early Work, and in the stories from his collection, Cool for America, which was released last summer, Andrew Martin nails a certain type of character. They are self-styled intellectuals and artists. They define their identities in large part through cultural touchstones and aesthetic tastes. Characters in Cool for America go to concerts, movie theaters, readings and book clubs. They work in book stores, produce radio shows and edit “august, maybe dying small magazine[s]”. Many of them are writers, or want to be. It makes me wonder about Martin’s creative process. What shapes his aesthetic tastes?
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