JAMES ELLROY is the author of 13 novels, each grander in scale than the last. Perhaps best known for “L.A. Confidential” and “The Black Dahlia”, both of which were adapted to film, Mr Ellroy writes books that are often part of a short series and almost always door-stoppers. But his latest work, “Shakedown”, is a dramatic departure: it is a slim, one-volume, digital-only novella.
SHORT literary fiction and critical essays are the publishing world’s equivalent of weapons-grade plutonium. Dense, highly refined, and for all but a professional few, something best avoided. The world’s demand for the stuff is met by a handful of respectable quarterlies, such as the Paris Review and Granta, and countless “little magazines” that publish experimental fiction and serve more as a proving ground for authors than something people actually read.
PULITZER prizes are better known for honoring American journalism than fiction. Their heft in literary circles is far outweighed by the Nobel prize or MacArthur Fellowship. Yet the Pulitzer remains one of the few literary honours that can substantially increase an author’s sales in America. The Pulitzer prize for fiction last year boosted sales of Jennifer Egan’s “A Visit from the Goon Squad” by an order of magnitude. Publishers had been keen on a similar revenue injection this year, in light of disappointing sales and a looming (and costly) anti-trust decision on digital rights.
TOM MCCARTHY’S 2005 debut, “Remainder”, managed what the jackets of so many first novels promise: a fresh and—in this case—unsettling take on contemporary life. It is about a brain-damaged man who marshals millions of pounds and a troupe of actors, consiglieres and forensic experts to reconstruct a memory. It is an intentionally confusing and difficult book that manages to draw on both Proust and Beckett, yet remain intoxicatingly readable…
Right now, in faculty rooms across the country, admissions officials are trying to winnow out the next batch of Masters of Fine Arts diploma candidates, America’s presumptive writing elite….
The Whitney Biennial is something of a coming-out party for mostly young and mostly unknown contemporary artists working in America. To announce the much-anticipated list of artists selected for this year’s show, which opens in New York on February 25th, the two curators, Francesco Bonami and Gary Carrion-Murayari, have supplemented the traditional press release with a short, weird film. Art wags are now scratching their heads, wondering what this could possibly mean….
A BANDIT ON THE HIGH LINE
The High Line park, recently converted from an elevated train track that snaked through the gallery district on Manhattan’s west side, is one of New York City’s most constrained public places. Designed to preserve the native flora and rusted chic of industrial-age New York, it is rare among city parks for the way it controls visitor numbers. Riffraff are held at bay. People actually seem to behave… [LINK]