This Beautiful Life by Helen Schulman: This book kinda sucks? I mean, it doesn’t suck, but sometimes I would read the sentences and I would be like, This does not ring true to anything at all. But wanting that would be like wanting Grey’s Anatomy to really relay the complexities of death and dying in a hospital setting. Grey’s Anatomy is more like, Hey people are boning and they work in a hospital. That’s cool! This Beautiful Life is basically like, I’m mother who wants things separate from my family life but I love my family, but now my children want things, plus Manhattan has a lot of money and that is tantalizing but scary! Also, teenage boning, or like teenage more than first base less than touching home. Plus technology/sex tapes. This shit is like eating candy. I read it in Sweden, I suggest you do the same.
Sam Sifton’s last review: A coupe of years ago, after Frank Bruni stopped being the NY Times food critic so he could tell everyone he used to be a fat kid, Sam Sifton stepped in. At the time, I was a vegetarian, so reading his reviews of suckling French bone marrow or whatever was pure fantasy, but in the wonderful escapist way that literature at its best exists. Sifton wrote a review of New York City institution La Grenouille that read like the exposition of a play. Then he talked about the food. His writing gave me a better understanding of restaurants, but more largely, about writing in general, about how you can intermingle facts and opinions. Sifton is leaving his post (too soon!) to become the national editor of the Times, which is good for them but bad for me. This week he published his last review of Per Se, what he calls the best restaurant in the city. “The restaurant more handsomely rewards the companionship of those who love one another as much as they do pleasure and indulgence,” he writes. It makes me want to eat there. He’s good at his job and will be missed.
The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach: I never much cared for N+1, more on vibe than anything else. I don’t hate smart shit, but sometimes it makes me tired. Or, if it’s smart, it better be funny, too (confidential to Claire Denis: are you listening?). This is a drastic reduction (I like tons of bummer shit), but when I read about The Art of Fielding it seemed so perfect that I basically ran out to get it. And then I found out one of the dudes who started N+1 wrote it and I deflated. Turns out I am way too much of a negative Nancy because this is the best book I have ever read. I’m joking? It’s about baseball and it’s a number of different types of love stories. Everyone in the world loves it, and I love it too. I read the first half slowly, gingerly allotting it like methadone before I caved and zoomed through the whole thing last Sunday morning. I was up early. It was a warm day, but I stayed in bed, reading. I wanted to know what happened.