Satirist Teddy Wayne’s latest follows the first-person ramblings of a Justin Bieber-esque teen pop star. Jess Walter is a novelist in his own right, so it’s important to take his praise with a grain of salt, but boy does he ever gush. Walter says that writing a novel with such a voice is a feat in itself, and that “to create out of that entitled adolescent voice a being of true longing and depth, and then to make him such a devastating weapon of cultural criticism — these are feats of unlikely virtuosity, like covering Jimi Hendrix on a ukulele.” This book just got a little more interesting.
Here’s another frothy rave. Briscoe kicks off this review of O’Farrell’s sixth novel by writing, “Maggie O’Farrell never fails to deliver, yet her dependable brand of eagle‑eyed storytelling rarely strays into the formulaic.” I just plain don’t believe that, because even my very favorite novelists deliver a dud one time out of six. The book itself follows an Irish family settled in London, and the terrible effects when the father simply disappears one day. Sounds quite interesting if the narrative really is as “acutely observed” as Briscoe claims.
Sendak’s much talked about final work is a child-inappropriate illustrated meditation on grief and love. It centers around a man whose brother dies, and who faces the challenge of a godlike white bear to bring him back from the land of the dead. Rosenberg mixes in a bit of Sendak’s personal history and illuminates his influences and craft as well as the biographical details that informed this book.
Ulin sketches out the shape and meaning of a new collection by an odd comic strip artist. Ben Katchor created “Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer,” which is about as difficult to describe as you might think from the title. Hand-Drying in America seems to be a different strip, a series of one-offs loosely based on design and architecture, which Ulin says combine to form a kind of “atlas of Katchor’s imaginary city, a series of maps intended to chart its life.”