Holidays: 5th Column
The Pleasures of Rereading 4 Columns

We’ll be back with a regular 4Columns issue on September 7. In the meanwhile, please enjoy this missive from the shores of our summer break.

Confronted with the dizzying array of new releases that line the bookstore shelves, we eschew novelty in favor of the pleasures of rereading: encountering rhythms and resonances that emerge once unraveling the mysteries of plot and character are no longer of concern; refracting insights from the past through the prism of the present. How, for example, does Elif Batuman use the subtleties of semiotics to dredge up emotions in her Pulitzer Prize–nominated The Idiot? How does Mary Gaitskill’s scathing critique of “female empowerment” in her first essay collection, Somebody with a Little Hammer, resound in the midst of the #MeToo movement?

Sometimes rereading is an elegiac act, as when we turn to Philip Roth’s Why Write? But sometimes we turn back to look ahead. This is certainly the case with Karl Ove Knausgaard’s Autumn, the first in a new quartet of books, each devoted to a single season. Here, we cannot help but hunt for clues for the final installment of the celebrated author’s epic My Struggle, being published for the first time in English—and reviewed in 4Columns by Hari Kunzru—this September. 

The Editors

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