“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.
New this week: The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota; The Little Red Chairs by Edna O’Brien; Chicago by Brian Doyle; The Destroyer in the Glass by Noah Warren; Dothead by Amit Majmudar; Grateful Dead’s Workingman’s Dead by Millions contributor Buzz Poole; and New and Collected Poems: 1975-2015 by Jay Parini. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great 2016 Book Preview.
Earlier this month William Beutler, a D.C. based writer, started a blog about the landmarks in Boston that inspired the landscape of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. Beutler does a great job chronicling the real-life history of different buildings and explaining how DFW altered them to fit into his novel.
Jeopardy! champion, Maphead author, and all-around puzzle whiz Ken Jennings has devised a month-long “Great American History Puzzle,” and the grand prize winner will receive a free trip to Washington D.C., as well as a “Secrets of the Smithsonian” tour no doubt reminiscent of touring the back room at the end of the first Indiana Jones movie.