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Omnivore

So much of our discussion of higher ed

From the Boston Globe, Beth Wolfensberger Singer on the skills to get that college acceptance letter. It doesn't matter if your kid doesn't get into Harvard: Using the mind as a means to acquire a corner office is very different from enjoying intellectual activity for its own sake. Confessions of a Harvard Gatekeeper: Ivy League admissions are a sham. After flood of requests, elite colleges begin destroying admissions records. Why is so much of our discussion of higher ed driven by elite


Paper Trail

Nicole Krauss (The History of Love) has reportedly sold her next two books for $4 million to Harper, making a departure from her previous publisher, Norton. The first of these two books, Late Wonder, is described rather abstractly as “a searching and metaphysical novel about transformation, about moving in the opposite direction from all that

Syllabi

Andre Dubus's best characters

Bibi DeitzAndre Dubus's literary superpower is to hit upon that one thing about a character that makes him him, or her her. And in so doing, with subtle, clever details—breadcrumbs on the trail to the nucleus

Daily Review

Provence, 1970: M. F. K. Fisher, Julia Child, James Beard, and the Reinvention of American Taste

Luke Barr's Provence, 1970: M. F. K. Fisher, Julia Child, James Beard, and the Reinvention of American Taste (Clarkson Potter, $15) would make a great film. There is gorgeous food, impressive scenery—all those twisty little roads and green vistas!—and lots of backstabbing.

Interviews

Jacob Rubin

Writing fiction about an impersonator is like playing Russian roulette with an allegory gun. Those who survive, whose books don't lapse into neat parables of the process of writing, tend to be brilliant. Examples include George Saunders (CivilWarLand in Bad Decline), Tom McCarthy (Remainder), and Pynchon (the reenactment of Alpdrucken in Gravity's Rainbow). The latest is Jacob Rubin, with his new novel The Poser, about the rise and fall of a gifted impressionist.

Appreciation

Repetition Compulsion

Namara Smith

Elena Ferrante is often asked about the classical influences in her work, and reading her early novels you can see why. They are strikingly compressed and spare, set largely in enclosed, almost anonymous, spaces that evoke the stage of a Greek drama, their focus turned inward. The Neapolitan series takes a different tack, resembling not the claustrophobic Greek tragedy but the expansive epic.

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