paper trail

Claire-Louise Bennett on Louise Bourgeois’s life and work; Rachel Syme reconsiders Nora Ephron

Claire-Louise Bennett. Photo: © Mark Walsh

For Harper’s Magazine, Claire-Louise Bennett—author of Checkout 19 and Pondmeditates on artist Louise Bourgeois: “The subject of pain is the business I am in,” she once said. It is customarily supposed that pain is a great catalyst for creativity, since pain produces an overflow of emotion that must surely galvanize artistic expression. But pain is more than and less than emotional excess. It is a grueling existential experience and is therefore one of the most difficult human situations to express.”   

At the Paris Review Daily, staff recommend Rosmarie Waldrop’s Curves to the Apple, Bernd and Hilla Becher’s photographs (which are currently on view at The Met), and being honest about not completing one’s summer reading goals. 

For the New Yorker, Rachel Syme writes about Nora Ephron—her early ambitions, “the romanticization of her work,” and her under-acknowledged passion for close-reading. 

In a new Substack post shared at LitHub, Mary Gaitskill discusses the challenges of writing “political fiction” with reference to work by Vladimir Nabokov, Katherine Anne Porter, and Russell Banks: “They understand and in the case of the last two, portray the brutal world of political struggle and war. But they never forget the larger context in which such struggle lives: the bit of sky, the strangeness of a face, the children humming to themselves in unswept corners, the innocent cry from an otherwise evil heart.”

New York Times Book Review deputy editor Tina Jordan revisits Laura Z. Hobson’s Gentleman’s Agreement, a novel about antisemitism that topped the paper’s best-seller list during the summer of 1947.