Indexing: China Miéville, Rich Cohen, and what Blake Butler and Jonathan Safran Foer have in common

Tobias Carroll
After seeing author China Miéville in conversation with Lev Grossman last week, I was eager to read his new novel Embassytown. I’ve been reading Miéville since around 2003, and as several trusted sources had told me that this was his best work, my anticipation grew. I finished reading it last night; I’m still assembling my thoughts on it, but as of now, my admiration for it is high. In many ways, it’s closest in town to his excellent The City & The City (which may be my favorite of his novels): a wholly created world that the reader is immersed in.  (I’m being intentionally vague here so as not to spoil the way the novel unfolds.) Though here, the scope is much larger, the stakes significantly higher. Even before one gets into the plotting, characters, and structure of the novel — all of which are admirable — Miéville’s accomplishment is deeply impressive.

I may have some thoughts on Lynne Tillman’s American Genius: A Comedy in this space later on; for now, I’m still assembling my own reaction to it.  The reading of nonfiction has also continued: earlier in the week, I read Ann Powers’s fine Weird Like Us, at once a memoir and a social history, and earlier today I began reading Ann Patchett’s Truth & Beauty.  And there’s a new issue of Bookforum that I hope to begin reading this weekend as well…

Jason Diamond

Glad Toby mentioned Tillman, because I just took a miserable train ride from New York to Hartford, and the only saving grace was reading Someday This Will be Funny.  Now I’m going to have to pick up American Genius: A Comedy as well. (Also, am I the only one to think that this might be the only book with blurbs from both Jonathan Safran Foer and Blake Butler on it?)

Started working on Rich Cohen’s Lake Effect, because after finishing up Those Guys Have all the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN (review maybe coming soon…), and reading a few different pieces of fiction, I need a memoir break.