We are all Beliebers: the London Review of Books reviews The Love Song of Jonny Valentine, whose author, Teddy Wayne, told us last month that “it misses the point to discard fiction simply because it’s about social media or the celebrity-gossip machine and not Iraq or divorce.”
“Art isn’t a footrace. No one comes in first place. Greatness is not a universally agreed-upon value. … America isn’t one story. It’s a layered and diverse array of identities, individual and collective, forged on contradictory realities that are imbued with and denied privilege and power. Our obsession with the Great American Novel is perhaps evidence of the even greater truth that it’s impossible for one to exist. As Americans, we keep looking anyway.” Cheryl Strayed and Adam Kirsch discuss the Great American Novel in this week’s New York Times Bookends. For a slightly different take, consider the 9 novels our experts chose as the Greatest American novels, from Moby-Dick to The Godfather.
Though traditionally a cultural staple, Irish poetry’s popularity has been on the decline for some time now. The best way to reignite public interest? A contest, of course, and Seamus Heaney just won. His sonnet “When all the others were away at Mass” was voted “Ireland’s best-loved poem written over the past 100 years.”
Tuesday New Release Day! New E.L. Doctorow, new Lorrie Moore, new Nick Cave, new (guest contributor) Michelle Huneven. And new in paperback 2666. Update: There’s also a new six-word memoir collection “by Teens Famous and Obscure” edited by Friend of The Millions Rachel Fershleiser
At least two people were not pleased with John Jeremiah Sullivan’s recent cover story in the New York Times Magazine. In a letter to the New York Observer (and an expanded post on Google+), Susannah McCormick – daughter of renowned music historian Robert “Mack” McCormick – alleges that Sullivan and his research assistant “glibly” stole her father’s research in an act of “quasi theft.” In his response, Sullivan asserts that, “by hiding L. V. Thomas’s voice, by refusing for over half a century to credit or even so much as name the two singers who created those recordings while they or their contemporaries were alive, Mack McCormick committed a theft—through negligence or writer’s block or whatever reasons of his own—far graver than my citation of interviews L.V. granted him decades ago.”
How many Millions readers reside in Miami? All of you should come check out this USpeak event hosted by the University of Miami’s Creative Writing Program. Students will read verse and short stories, and visiting professor Patricia Engel (author of Vida) will read as well. You can also pick up a copy of Mangrove, the university’s undergraduate literary journal.