Tuesday November 16th, 2010

The Beat

A weekly roundup of noteworthy reviews from other sources.

irish2Upon the publication of a new anthology of Irish short stories (to be published in the U.S. in March), Keith Hopper surveys the history of such anthologies and the history of attempts to explain why the Irish thrive in the form. . . . Zadie Smith on some movie about Facebook and a book about technology — but really, Zadie Smith, brilliantly, on our impoverished lives. . . . Geoff Dyer reviews My Prizes, in which Thomas Bernhard writes about the awards he reluctantly received: “The pieces in My Prizes are nice anecdotes, with some wonderful riffs, but they don’t have the aesthetic shape or inner propulsion to amount to more than that.” . . . Vivian Gornick examines the marriage of Leo and Sophia Tolstoy: “Neither could have understood in advance of the marriage the depth of emotional ambition that motivated them, much less that it was precisely because that ambition was destined to be thwarted that each would be bound permanently, one to the other. It was the stuff upon which Sigmund Freud was to build an intellectual empire.” . . . Adam Bradley says Jay-Z’s first book may leave readers “dissatisfied with the level of revelation and reflection,” but it showcases the lyrics of rap in a refreshing way.