“America has always been able to countenance beggars, short-con men, and nine-to-fivers who just can’t get ahead, but we’ve never known what to do with the type of person who could have been really big but chose not to make the concessions required.” The Believer takes a look at the paradox of Nelson Algren.
“It’s really strange to have the success of a poem be so directly tied to people processing grief. It’s a strange thing, because it’s a blessing and a curse.” The Rumpus interviews poet Maggie Smith about her new collection, Good Bones, her viral poem that shares its name, and her craft. From our archives: Smith’s collection was featured in our round-up of October’s Must-Read Poetry.
Adding to the general hand-wringing over the state of the humanities, Lee Siegel contradicts Leon Wieseltier’s lament that fewer college students are majoring in literature by contending that modern literature courses ruin the joy of reading. “For every college professor who made Shakespeare or Lawrence come alive for the lucky few,” he writes, “there were countless others who made the reading of literary masterpieces seem like two hours in the periodontist’s chair.” (You can also read a similar argument from a humanities professor in The New Republic.)
We’ve published a fair number of pieces about the import of book covers. You may have read one of our US-UK book cover battles. Over at The Awl, Amanda Pickering takes a look at one of the stranger aspects of book design: the animals that appear on the covers of programming books.