paper trail

Jennifer Wilson on Elif Batuman’s new novel; Joe Kahn has been named the new executive editor of the New York Times

Elif Batuman. Photo: Valentyn Kuzan.

Jennifer Wilson reviews Elif Batuman’s second novel, Either/Or, for The Atlantic. A sequel to The Idiot, Either/Or follows Selin, now a literature major at Harvard, in her pursuit of the aesthetic life. While collecting experiences she plans to use as material for a novel, Selin ponders the “ethics of being an autobiographical-writer-in-the-making.” Wilson notes that “the simplicity of the experience-for-art’s-sake mantra is itself a clue that the cerebral Selin will soon grow suspicious of it.” 

On April 13, Bennington College hosted an in-person event titled “How to Be an Art Monster.” Moderated by author Benjamin Anastas, the panel featured novelists Sheila Heti (Pure Colour) and Jenny Offill (who used the term “art monster” to great effect in Dept. of Speculation) and essayist Jia Tolentino (Trick Mirror). A video of the event has been posted here

At the Evergreen Review, Porochista Khakpour interviews McKenzie Wark about her new book, Philosophy of Spiders, and the book’s meditations on Kathy Acker. “There is a lot going on with gender in her texts. It’s very mutable. It’s already an experience and theory of gender that takes away certain assumptions. I wouldn’t use a phrase like ‘trans identity’ however. Kathy hated all identities. If there’s a politics of selfhood in her life and work it is about escaping all identities without losing yourself entirely. So my reading is about trans-ness as possibility, not imposing a ‘trans identity’ any more than she would have wanted a ‘queer identity’ or any other.”

At Astra magazine, an interview with Eloghosa Osunde about her new book, Vagabonds!. Osunde tells interviewer Logan February: “I don’t think of Vagabonds! as a novel exactly. I do think of it as a book but also as a trampoline, an endless site of possibilities, a playground, a container.” 

Joe Kahn will succeed Dean Baquet as executive editor of the New York Times in June. “For many people, especially those who have worked alongside Joe—a brilliant journalist and a brave and principled leader—this announcement will come as no surprise,” wrote publisher A. G. Sulzberger in a staff memo. 

At The Reveal, Scott Tobias offers a list of his ten favorite rom-coms, in response to a list of “The 50 Best Rom-Coms” published by The Ringer yesterday, which only included one film made before 1980. Tobias’s list includes older classics, like Ernst Lubitsch’s Trouble in Paradise (1932) and Billy Wilder’s The Apartment (1960). For more on both these filmmakers, read A. S. Hamrah’s essay on Wilder in the spring issue of Bookforum.