This week’s podcast is focused on crime and detective books—both fiction and nonfiction. First off,
we talk I monologue about Errol Morris’s A Wilderness of Error: The Trials of Jeffrey MacDonald and my recent Twitter fight with Joe McGinniss about this case, then we move on to talking about Wolf Haas’s Brenner and God and what makes this book (and detective books in general) fun to read.
I do apologize for the long diatribe about Joe McGinniss and Blind Vision, but after reading A Wilderness of Error and then coming across this article about the new trial, I
was am a bit enraged at the smarmy way McGinniss is using this situation to his own benefit. As I explain in the podcast, McGinniss seems incapable of acknowledging that his book is part of the dominant discourse about this case, and that Morris’s much more comprehensive investigation illustrates the way in which we tend to interpret ambiguous facts (or ignore totally them) to fit the discourse/narrative we’ve decided to believe in. I think that Morris’s book makes it very clear that regardless of innocence or guilt, MacDonald did not receive a fair trial and that this is a travesty of justice. For McGinniss to use this situation to try and shill his book is really gross. Not just because of the fact he refers to MacDonald’s 40+ year imprisonment following the murder of his wife and two daughters as the “#FatalVision hearing,” but because it seems like he’s much more concerned with being “the truth” about MacDonald’s case rather than acknowledging that the man deserves a fair trial in one of the most compelling and strange mysteries of the past half-century . . .
/no more drunken tweeting
Anyway, this week’s music is In a Big City by Titus Andronicus—the best song from their new album.
Many of Virginie Despentes’s books revolve around the same central idea: “To be born a woman [is] the worst fate in practically every society.” But this message is nearly always packaged in easy-to-read books that fill you with the pleasure. . .
Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer’s La Superba is appropriately titled after the Italian city of Genoa, where, after escaping the pressures of fame in his own country, the semi-autobiographical narrator finds himself cataloguing the experiences of its mesmerizing inhabitants with the intention. . .
It took reading 44 pages of Intervenir/Intervene before I began to get a sense of what Dolores Dorantes and Rodrigo Flores Sánchez were up to. Recurring throughout these 44 pages—throughout the entire book—are shovels, shovel smacks to the face, lobelias—aha!. . .
As presaged by its title, contradiction is the theme of Peter Stamm’s novel, All Days Are Night. Gillian, a well-known television personality, remains unknowable to herself. And Hubert, a frustrated artist and Gillian’s lover, creates art through the process of. . .
It’s a rare and wonderful book that begins and ends with violence and humor. At the start of Etgar Keret’s The Seven Good Years, Keret is in a hospital waiting for the birth of his first child while nurses, in. . .
Last year, Han Kang’s The Vegetarian was an unexpected critical hit. Now, it’s just been published in the U.S. and has already received a great deal of positive critical attention. The Vegetarian was a bold book to attempt as an. . .
It’s been almost a year since the publication of Nowhere to Be Found by Bae Suah, but despite being included on the 2015 PEN Translation award longlist, and some pretty vocal support from key indie presses, the book has. . .
Jorge Eduardo Benavides’ novel La paz de los vencidos (The Peace of the Defeated) takes the form of a diary written by a nameless Peruvian thirty-something intellectual slumming it in Santa Cruz de Tenerife in Spain’s Canary Islands. Recently relocated. . .
Anyone with any interest at all in contemporary Moroccan writing must start with Souffles. A cultural and political journal, Souffles (the French word for “breaths”) was founded in 1966 by Abdellatif Laâbi and Mostafa Nissabouri. Run by a group of. . .
Randall Jarrell once argued a point that I will now paraphrase and, in doing so, over-simplify: As a culture, we need book criticism, not book reviews. I sort of agree, but let’s not get into all of that. Having finished. . .