paper trail

Elif Batuman on her new novel; reassessing Gone Girl ten years later

Elif Batuman. Photo: Valentyn Kuzan.

At the New Republic, Sophie Haigney writes about Elif Batuman’s new novel, Either/Or: “One of Batuman’s abiding preoccupations is how literature intersects with life. She has expressed a general preference for nonfiction over contemporary fiction, for its ability to engage with reality.” At LitHub, Batuman talks about writing the book and the process of looking back at her college-age self: “When I look back at that time, it would be easy to say, oh, the wool was really pulled over my eyes and I was really tricked and I really fell for something and I was really dumb. But the truth feels more complicated.”

At The Point, an essay by Karolina Watroba about reading Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain, and the difficulty of talking about “difficult” books. Watroba also points out that Mann himself had an informal relationship to high-minded ideas: “In a culture extremely anxious about intellectual standards, Mann both exceeded these standards and yet did not quite live up to them. He read widely and assimilated what he read with ease, but his knowledge tended to be secondhand and rather patchy.”

At the Columbia Journalism Review, a profile of the person behind New York Times Pitchbot, the satirical social-media account that spoof Times headlines. 

On the ten-year anniversary of Gone Girl’s publication, Maris Kreizman looks at the novel’s influence and asks whether it has aged well. Kreizman reports that even after reading a decade of pale imitations, she’s still enthralled by Gillian Flynn’s plotting and storytelling and praises the book’s larger implications: “Gone Girl is so much more than your average airport purchase. It’s also a scathing social satire of life following the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis, when America was in decline and a feeling of doom pervaded.” Reviewing the book for Bookforum in 2013, Mary Gaitskill was not as impressed:  “I found it as irritating as imagined, populated by snarky-cute, pop-culturally twisted voices coming out of characters who seem constructed entirely of ‘referents’ and ‘signifiers,’ and who say things like ‘Suck it, snobdouche!’”

Next Tuesday, May 31, Emily Gould will talk with Nell Zink about Zink’s new novel, Avalon. The virtual event, hosted by Community Bookstore in Brooklyn, is free.