Allan Gurganus commemorates the 100th anniversary of his teacher and friend John Cheever’s birth. “Cheever, now unfairly known as the gloomy, sodden satyr of suburbia,” Gurganus writes, “was at least rarely gloomy. Fact is he was more fun per minute than is legal in a nation this Republican.”
“Why write in an unlovable genre with an inevitably hectoring tone? Dystopia, situated in a dangerous no-man’s-land between the pulpit of the preacher and the safe sniper post of the satirist.” Future futurists, take note: the New York Review of Books reviews Chang-Rae Lee’s addition to your dystopic shelf, On Such a Full Sea, and ponders the virtues of the dystopic endeavor itself. (Bonus: Lee writes about his own 2013 Year in Reading here at The Millions.)
Ultra-bestselling author Danielle Steel went off recently about something that’s been bothering her for ages. “I think some people are threatened if one is enterprising or has many/varied interests,” she writes. In particular, “it’s about men who don’t like women getting out there, doing something new or innovative and accomplishing something.”
“Her only ‘crime’ has been that she has used her ‘freedom of speech’ to attract attention to injustice, because her conscience will not allow her to remain silent.” A campaign calls for the release of Aslı Erdoğan, an acclaimed Turkish novelist currently being held by her government on nebulous charges. Also did you know: our own editor-in-chief, Lydia Kiesling, speaks Turkish?
Do people still need to study the humanities? You’d think the answer is “yes, of course,” but the issue is far more complicated than that. In a bid to sort it out, The New Republic recently asked a group of former university presidents to give their viewpoints on the matter. Sample quote: “Humanities faculty have too often conspired well.” Pair with: our own Nick Ripatrazone on coming to writing from outside the humanities.