Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books bring an icy take on America in winter. To Guardian reader Alison Gibbsme, “as a child, they were full of adventure and excitement; as an adult I am shocked at how full of danger they are.”
Who invented ska music? John Jeremiah Sullivan traces the history of the genre in his latest essay for The Oxford American. “The more the claims for Rosco Gordon’s supremacy as a ska progenitor seem not out of proportion, and the less crazy it feels to say that, in a sense, ska was born in Tennessee.” Pair with: Sullivan’s essay on Bunny Wailer, who makes a cameo in his ska essay.
Lindsey Drager considers the novella and argues that it is neither a feminine form nor a smaller type of novel. As she puts it, “while other fiction aims outward, the novella curls in, coiling around itself until there’s no distinction between the story’s body and the story’s shell.” Pair with our own Nick Ripatrazone’s essay on the art of the novella.
Anwen Crawford reflects on newly published letters from Sylvia Plath; “The belief among many of Plath’s devotees seems to be that if we can get clear of other people’s fingerprints on her texts, allowing Plath to ‘fully narrate her own autobiography,’ as the editors here describe it, we will at last solve the riddle of her. The extremities of her poetry will balance against the circumstances of her life; the latter will equal the former. But her griefs were ordinary; it is what she did with them that wasn’t. Plath turned her common sorrows—dead father, mental illness, cheating husband—into something like an origin story for pain itself, as if her own pain preceded the world.” In the New Yorker
“Only the moon can judge Indiana. It’s a state that mostly gets ignored, and occasionally ridiculed, by the rest of the country, but no matter. Anyone is welcome to come here and see a reflection of themselves in the unlikeliest places, no matter what any law says.” Adam Fleming Petty on “Writing from the Nowhere State.”