Not highbrow, not lowbrow, not even middlebrow – is American culture now dominated by the upper middle brow?
The lineup for the 2013 PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature has been announced. The festival will commence on April 29th with a reading “about the notion of bravery” from three writers – including Millions contributor A. Igoni Barrett.
New this week are Anita Desai’s The Artist of Disappearance and P.D. James’ Pride and Prejudice sequel Death Comes to Pemberly. Joseph Gordon-Levitt hangs up his acting duds to put out The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories: Volume 1, and, speaking of tiny stories, there’s Lou Beach’s 420 Characters: “these crystalline miniature stories began as Facebook status updates.” On the nonfiction side, there’s Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil by Tom Mueller.
You’ll have to read this Curiosity to believe it! The surprise bestselling Time-Life series was wildly popular in the late 80s–but why? The answer is a bit less mysterious than one might have hoped. As a consolation, here’s a related essay from The Millions on conspiracy literature.
For two weeks last summer, Colin Dickey sailed around the coast of Svalbard in the Arctic Circle. On one occasion, his voyage was stalled by heavy fog, and his group was obligated to anchor near Amsterdamøya. As one does, he used the occasion to ruminate about scurvy – or “polar night disease” – which claimed the lives of many sailors buried in the area’s graves.
“But the truth is that even very small actions can ripple outwards and have huge and far-reaching effects. In other words, the fires you start can be little, but don’t think they don’t matter, or that they won’t spread.” The Los Angeles Review of Books interviewed Celeste Ng about writing about women, transracial adoption, and her novel, Little Fires Everywhere (featured in multiple Year in Reading entries).