Friday July 31st, 2009

The Beat

A weekly roundup of noteworthy reviews from other sources.

carver-beginnersRaymond Carver had a famously fascinating relationship with his editor, Gordon Lish, who liberally whittled the author’s stories down, to the point where “Lishesque” should perhaps replace “Carveresque” in the minimalist dictionary. James Campbell examines the duo at length: “Carver was the singer but Lish was his producer, and the mood of the sessions is largely his creation.” In the UK, a version of Carver’s stories before Lish got his hands on them is being published this fall. . . . I’m not much of a graphic novel reader, but David Mazzucchelli’s Asterios Polyp does look temptingly beautiful on the shelves. Douglas Wolk calls it “a big, proud, ambitious chunk of a graphic novel, with modernism on its mind and a perfectly geometrical chip on its shoulder. [. . .] a dazzling, expertly constructed entertainment, even as it’s maddening and even suffocating at times.” . . . Scott Bradfield has fun writing about two recent Bigfoot-related books. He says that P.T. Barnum once featured in his circus a “What-Is-It,” a creature (a.k.a., a dude in a suit) that “represented that half-familiar something that human beings could marvel at while dimly suspecting that somebody might be pulling their leg.” . . . Sam Anderson reviews the latest doorstop from William Vollmann, “the maximalist’s maximalist, a PEZ dispenser of career-capping megavolumes.” I would quote Anderson’s joke from the first paragraph of the review, but it’s a doorstop itself. . . . Lastly, please indulge the horse racing fan in me for a moment. Jim Squires, breeder of the 2001 Kentucky Derby winner, Monarchos, has written Headless Horsemen, about the way the sport’s stewards are driving it into the ground. At least one reviewer finds the book “long on complaints but short on solutions.”