“The concept that being American means, by definition, having an ideal that you’ve failed to live up to—that’s another crucial thing I learned from [James Alan] McPherson. It is not a rejection of America for Michelle Obama to note that her daughters are growing up in a house built by slaves. Or a rejection of a white writer to point out that Fitzgerald was a racist. Instead, it is American to admit those facts and to find in that admission a way forward.” On American values, Barack Obama, and the legacy of James Alan McPherson over at The Literary Hub.
“There’s this sense of guilt that my writing career is going well because black people are being killed. I’ve reached a point where I don’t know if I have anything new to say. It’s the same narrative over and over.” Debut novelist Brit Bennett gets profiled for The New York Times about The Mothers, which we included in the list of October book releases we’re most excited about.
Recommended Reading: An excerpt from Jesmyn Ward’s new memoir, Men We Reaped. “This is the summer of the year 2000. This is the last summer that I will spend with my brother. This is the heart. This is. Every day, this is.” Pair with: The New York Times profile of Ward.
Although Of Mice and Men is an iconic novella about the Great Depression, could it be set in another era? At McSweeney’s, Thomas Scott imagines Lennie and George in Silicon Valley. “Well, we’ll have a big vegetable patch and a rabbit hutch and chickens and a 7,000 square-foot Hacienda with a little landing pad on the top deck for a helicopter.”
“In addition to fearing, as a young person, that I lacked sophistication, I also feared that I lacked courage. It was hard for me to say something even mildly tough about someone else or their work; hard for me, generally, to be critical. Mary McCarthy had no such trouble.” Meg Wolitzer, author of The Interestings, writes about her literary idol for the LA Times.