Literary Links: Savaging Safran Foer, Dylan and Springsteen’s Memoirs


Here at Flavorwire, we pride ourselves on not only writing some of the best content on the internet, but keeping an eye on all of the great writing that other folks on the ‘net are doing, too. And since our audience (and we) love books in particular, we thought we would share a weekly roundup of some our favorite bookish writing from around the web. This week: lots of reviews of Jonathan Safran Foer’s new novel, memoirs by rock stars, and more.

Reviewers duked it out to see who could have the most witty take on Jonathan Safran Foer’s new book, Here I Am.

At the LA Times, Alexander Nazaryan panned the novel entirely, writing “I fear that it never occurred to Foer that his precious creations are, in fact, insufferable,” and “When the family dog is eventually put down, you are glad the suffering is finally through — both his and your own.”

“Foer writes in the certainty that all of humanity shares universal experiences, so for him the particulars are often irrelevant, which feels like the most Brooklyn thing about him,” writes Michelle Dean at the New Republic. “In focusing on grand, poetic truths about ‘freedom,’ ‘passion,’ and ‘loneliness,’ Foer misses out on the real complications of life.”

Not everyone agrees with the pans. “Dazzling and draining, dazzling and draining”, NPR’s Maurenn Corrigan said of her reaction to the novel, before settling on “the final verdict just dazzling.” And at the Guardian, there’s a more serious consideration of the novel’s Jewishness: “This is a novel of diaspora, of the elasticity of its numerous possible meanings, and of the pain caused by both the presence and the absence of the homeland it invokes. It moves from the intimate dissection of a family that has ceased to become a home for its members to the question of what Israel means to American Jews, and what they might consider to be their duty in the face of its imperilment.”

An Italian writer’s parenting essays:

Belle Boggs, author of one of our September picks, The Art of Waiting: On Fertility, Medicine and Motherhood, introduces readers to “Italian novelist, essayist, playwright, short-story writer, translator, and political activist Natalia Ginzburg.” Ginzburg wrote, among other things, about parenting, saying we should teach children, “Not thrift but generosity and an indifference to money; not caution but courage and a contempt for danger; not shrewdness but frankness and a love of truth; not tact but love for one’s neighbor and self-denial; not a desire for success but a desire to be and to know.”

A critical reappraisal of Bob Dylan’s memoirs:

A millennial Dylan fan admits her dad was sort of right about the gate-crafting, Christmas-carol crooning Bard of Hibbing when she delves back into his memoirs, Chronicles.

Which reminds us: Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen’s memoir is due out next month, and Vanity Fair has a probing cover story on the Boss in advance of its release.

National Book Foundation’s Lisa Lucas talks to the New York Times about her mission:

“I care a lot about racial inequity. But when I think about building a nation of readers, I don’t think it’s fair to leave anyone behind. If I say I’m going to focus only on racial inclusivity, and I don’t think about poverty or regional isolation, then I’m failing to connect people, which is what literature does.”

Origins and intersections:

Sillerman-prize winning poet Mahtem Shifferaw reads her work in the video below: