Loved: Sheila Heti, How Should a Person Be?
Loved: George Saunders, Tenth of December
Hated: Claire Messud, The Emperor’s Children
Recommendation: The Grumpy Librarian imagines the submitter of these three books having a bathroom full of carefully alphabetized pill bottles, the collected works of Lydia Davis and old issues of N+1. It sounds like a pretty fun place to hide during parties.
Next time, bring a copy of Knut Hamsun’s Hunger in there. (If you don’t know Norwegian and are persnickety about translators, folks seem to prefer the Sverre Lyngstad.) The 1890 novel is exhausting and neurotic and also pretty funny, in an exhausting and neurotic kind of way. There isn’t really a plot and nothing happens (well, the narrator gets pretty hungry at times), but that should be like a nice cup of tea to a fan of Heti’s sweeping self-involvement.
A biography of Hamsun would probably be equally engaging: Book jackets offer that he influenced Hemingway and Kafka and won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1920. They tend to leave off the bit about how he gifted that Nobel medal to Joseph Goebbels and spent his final years on trial for treason, shunned and in poverty. You might need some Zoloft after, but, hey — that’s why you’re in the bathroom.