All posts tagged: Unsentimental

‘The Bloodied Nightgown’ is a monument to Joan Acocella’s savage wit and unsentimental generosity

‘The Bloodied Nightgown’ is a monument to Joan Acocella’s savage wit and unsentimental generosity

[ad_1] Book Review The Bloodied Nightgown and Other Essays By Joan AcocellaFarrar, Straus and Giroux, 368 pages, $35 If you buy books linked on our site, The Times may earn a commission from Bookshop.org, whose fees support independent bookstores. “I do think I know a hot dog from a real artist,” Joan Acocella observed modestly last year. Few would disagree. Watching her tell them apart, with an occasional blast of her savage wit, was a treat for readers for four decades. Sadly, the publication of her new collection, “The Bloodied Nightgown and Other Essays,” comes just weeks after her death Jan. 7 at age 78. Bringing together some of her smartest and most entertaining pieces on literature and language published between 2007 and 2021, the volume must now serve as a makeshift monument to Acocella’s career. Many knew her best for her dance writing — she was the New Yorker’s dance critic for more than 20 years — but “The Bloodied Nightgown” is set offstage, in the library. Acocella was a cultural omnivore, and the …

The Spiky, Unsentimental Visions of Diana Athill

The Spiky, Unsentimental Visions of Diana Athill

[ad_1] One of American fiction’s core preoccupations, these days, seems to be the question of what causes unhappiness. Many of our major writers are earnest anatomists of discontent and its social, psychological, and existential causes. This kind of fiction can be very powerful. Reading about loneliness when you’re lonely can provide both diagnosis and solace; encountering a character trapped by student debt or patriarchal expectation can inspire a sense of camaraderie in a reader facing similar frustrations. But more often than not, contemporary novelists handle their subject matter with immersive seriousness and sincerity—and sincerity, after a while, gets tiring. Misery may love company, but sometimes a miserable person wants cheering up too. If you’re looking to make a little light of sadness, as I have been, the work of Diana Athill might be the perfect place to turn. The legendary writer and editor is one of a loose cadre of 20th-century English and Irish women authors gaining resurgent attention for their brilliantly drawn characters and sharply witty prose; others in this camp include Penelope Fitzgerald, …