“A dead, white, quasi-European male was able to survive the culture wars by becoming wised up, worldly, homosexual, feminist – Henry James, our contemporary.” But who was he, really?
At The NYT Mag, Virginia Heffernan‘s “Drill, Baby, Drill” explores the possibility that drills and memorization might not be quite as oppressive as some of the kinder, gentler pedagogues of our time suggest and offers a list of aps to help aspiring rote learners (Nota Bene: VerseByHeart).
In a piece for Public Books Rebecca Steinitz reviews some recent historical novels, including The Luminaries and The Invention of Wings, and argues that the best historical fiction “plunges the reader wholly into the past, enlightening and entertaining us, while also making us reflect on our present, in history and in literature.” Pair her piece with Laila Lalami‘s account of “How History Becomes Story.”
“How can you write a complete story without a conventional plot? We often hear that in short stories, the main character must change. But in some stories, including some by Grace Paley, the characters don’t change. Instead, her stories change the reader. You’re different by the time you reach the end.” We’ve told you about The Atlantic’s “By Heart” series plenty of times before. This week, it’s Alice Mattison, who touches on everything from character development to the strange stories of Grace Paley.