Bet you didn’t know this Saturday was the 25th anniversary of the first “going postal” shootings in Oklahoma. I have a piece at The Morning News examining America’s export of this peculiar brand of spree killings around the world, most recently to Oslo, Norway.
Last week, I directed you to Catie Disabato’s Thick Skin interview at 0s&1s. This week, Year in Reading alum Laura van den Berg joins them for the latest installment of the series, in which authors address their critics. We also recently interviewed van den Berg following the release of her first novel, Find Me.
“For a man who is making his living as a critic to write about Scott Fitzgerald without mentioning The Great Gatsby just means that he doesn’t know his business. Many people consider The Great Gatsby one of the few classic American novels. I do myself. Obviously such a judgment is debatable.” The New Republic digs up a tribute by John Dos Passos.
Literary fiction is falling apart, but it might be for the best, Ted Gioia writes. In his essay, he explores the history of the fragmented novel (or the polyphonic novel as we’ve written about before) from Winesburg, Ohio to A Visit From the Goon Squad and fittingly, he does it in fragments.
Kevin Courier is re-running interviews he did for the CBC in the 1980s on the Critics At Large site. Here’s his 1986 interview with Barbara Brenden, author of The Passion of Ayn Rand. Brenden’s book, Courier writes, “not only unveiled this polarizing figure” of Ayn Rand, but it “also illustrated the perils of blind faith and idolatry.” Given the Objectivist’s influence on a certain vice presidential candidate, this one’s worth a read.
From The Independent, the best of the new breed of underground literary magazines to fit into that “empty slot on the bookshelf between your pristine copies of McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern and Granta.”
Curious to know what the new Most Irritating Word is? Not many people agree on the number one offender, but for a while a top choice was “literally,” which evolved so much over the past few decades that the Oxford English Dictionary revised its official definition. At Slate, Katy Waldman proposed that we give the title to “amazeballs.” Now, in The New Republic, Judith Shulevitz makes the case for “disruptive,” the scourge of the tech world.