“Without any clear and agreed upon sense for what to be aiming at in a life, people may experience the paralyzing type of indecision depicted by T.S. Eliot in his famously vacillating character Prufrock; or they may feel, like the characters in a Samuel Beckett play, as though they are continuously waiting for something to become clear… or they may feel the kind of “stomach level sadness” that David Foster Wallace described…” Sean D. Kelly navigates past nihilism for the New York Times.
The Great Gatsby debuted in 1925 to poor sales and mediocre reviews. So how did it become one of the most famous novels in America? At Slate, Cristina Hartmann explains how Fitzgerald’s opus, which netted the author royalties worth a grand total of $13 in his lifetime, went on to become a classic. Related: our own Bill Morris on a book about the novel by Sarah Churchwell. (h/t The Paris Review Daily)
Why are women the primary consumers of true crime literature while an overwhelming majority of the genre showcases violence towards women? Over at Hazlitt, Casey Johnston has a few ideas about this seemingly irreconcilable paradox. Here is a complementary piece by Ujala Sehgal for The Millions on the female True Detectives of literature.
Recommended Reading: This excerpt from The Work of the Dead: A Cultural History of Mortal Remains by Thomas Laqueur. In it, Laqueur explores the cultural peculiarities of mourning and the necrobotany of the yew tree, or “tree of the dead.”