Critical Mass

What I’m Looking Forward To Reading: James Marcus


Traditionally I ease into summer with some light entertainment, and Ian Frazier’s Lamentations of the Father (FSG) fits the bill to perfection. Frazier is funny even in his fatter, more ambitious books, but his comic essays and parodies (an endangered form) leave me helpless with amusement and admiration. I’m also looking forward to another essay collection, Dubravka Ugresic’s Nobody’s Home (Open Letter)—the work of an equally witty author, although her subject matter is a bit bleaker. On the poetry front, I’m eager to read Glyn Maxwell’s Hide Now (Houghton Mifflin), as well as Words In Air: The Complete Correspondence Between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell (FSG). Having devoured a marvelous collection of Lowell’s letters a couple of years ago, I initially imagined that his correspondence with Bishop would amount to a slender volume of barrel scrapings. Boy, was I wrong—the new book is 880 pages long, and these were people who thrived on the elastic, intimate, apercu-friendly form of the old-fashioned letter, so I’m anticipating a feast. I’m psyched about the new Julian Barnes, Nothing to Be Frightened Of (Knopf), rumored to be the funniest book about death since Flann O’Brien’s The Third Policeman. Speaking of which, there’s also Philip Roth’s Indignation (Houghton Mifflin), a postmortem narrative that I’ve already read, but am anxious to read again, mostly to see if I like it more the second time. And finally, there are two more novels on my radar for later this summer: Marilynne Robinson’s Home (FSG), set in the same Iowa town as Gilead, and The Book of Getting Even (Steerforth), a sophomore effort by the slippery and elegant Benjamin Taylor.