For the most part, Alexis de Tocqueville had good things to say about the young United States in his book Democracy in America, which is probably why we tend to forget that he thought Americans weren’t funny. What de Tocqueville missed, according to a new history of American humor, is the extent to which American funniness emerged from subversive groups of outsiders. In Bookforum, Ben Schwartz takes stock of the arguments in American Fun.
The trailer is out for the film adaptation of Nobel laureate Alice Munro’s Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage. The film will star Kristen Wiig, Guy Pearce, Hailee Steinfeld and Nick Nolte among others.
It looks like Jonathan Safran Foer will be publishing his first novel in eleven years next fall. The book, tentatively titled Here I Am, is the story of an American Jewish family, set against a background of traumatic events in the Middle East including earthquakes and an invasion of Israel. Foer’s last novel, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, enjoyed tremendous critical and commercial success. Here’s a piece on JSF’s crazy, confusing, die-cut book Tree of Codes.
Over at Bookslut, Brian Nicholson follows up our recent piece on Silvina Ocampo’s Thus Were Their Faces with his own review of the book, writing that “She does not need to invent books of infinite pages, for the world of what we know already contains things as strange as mirrors.” The review draws a comparison between her work and that of Borges, her close friend.
With the movie adaptation of The Great Gatsby slotted to come out next summer and Anna Karenina due out in late November, film critic Richard Brody looks back at some of his favorite movies based on literature and proposes what makes an adaptation successful.