Gore Vidal has died at the age of 86. The prominent author, screenwriter, Norman Mailer-nemesis and political activist published 25 novels, two memoirs and many, many essay volumes in addition to plays, screenplays, and television scripts. For a time, he even loaned his own visage to the silver screen, as Mindy Hung recently pointed out on our site.
Canonical literature isn’t the only way to learn about America. The bestseller list can be equally as telling. Matthew Kahn is reading 100 years of No. 1 bestsellers from 1913 to 2013. He blogs about the books and discusses the project in an interview with Salon’s Laura Miller. When Miller asks what makes a bestseller, he claims, “A lot of it is just a matter of accessibility. A focus on plot and character rather than structure and the prose itself.”
Attn Twitterers: Some folks have been following me @cmaxmagee, but starting today we’ll be using @The_Millions for the occasional books- and Millions-related “tweet.” If you are the twittering type, throw a “follow” our way (and spread the word). (Thanks to my brother Phil for securing and holding onto @The_Millions until I finally got around to using it.)
A new MOOC from the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program is scheduled to begin on June 28. “How Writers Write Poetry” is free and open to the public, and it will feature craft talks from poets such as Robert Hass and Kwame Dawes. A fiction-writing course is also scheduled for September. (Related: Read how several Iowa MFA students describe a typical day in the program.)