Scott Spencer’s River Under the Road is a condition of America novel that’s right on time even though it’s set in the 70s and 80s.
Coming Up Short: Working-Class Adulthood in an Age of Uncertainty by Jennifer M. Silva, Oxford University Press.
Corinne Bailey Rae’s husband Jason Rae died in his sleep, his breathing suppressed by an accidental overdose of methadone. It’s difficult to listen to her singing “I’d Do it All Again” and not imagine you are hearing a woman coming to terms with the death of her lover.
Spain in Our Hearts: Americans in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939 by Adam Hochschild, Macmillan, 2016.
How is it that after so many years and so many wars and so many revolutions, counter-revolutions, assassinations, genocides, and betrayals, the Spanish Civil War continues to capture the imagination of idealists and romantics?
It’s Christmas Eve and it has been raining all day in a kind of incessant Blade Runner post-apocalyptic way: a muddy Christmas! Gasoline is suddenly well under three bucks a gallon so it’s hello greenhouse and goodbye ozone. Hunting season upstate and my dog has found a bag of guts a neighbor has left outside after butchering his doe. Yet the main thing about today, beyond the appalling weather, my rancid mutt, my worries for the environment, and the anniversary of the birth of the Infant Jesus is that I finished reading a great novel and I am surging with energy and feeling the aesthetic thrill of having experienced something original and important.
In 1965, three friends and I walked into a Chicago bar dressed in jeans and work shirts, sporting the hairdos of the time — the kind you had to pat into place because no comb can make its way through. We were going to a legendary blues bar at 47th and Indiana, in a solidly African-American section of the city; it was late and the street was mostly shuttered for the night — maybe a check-cashing place and a chicken shack were open, besides our destination, Theresa’s, the dimly-lit club where Junior Wells and Buddy Guy were appearing.
David Shields, Reality Hunger, Knoph.
Nothing lasts forever. After several decades of dire warnings about its frailty, what if the novel — long the linchpin of print culture — has finally died? It can happen; one day, it will happen.