Ron Hogan has set up a new website in which he recommends books to desiring readers. Check out The Handsell for further information.
Harper Lee, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of To Kill a Mockingbird and Go Set a Watchman, died this morning in Monroeville, Alabama at the age of 89. Lee won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 for Mockingbird, which later formed the basis of a film starring Gregory Peck. To learn more about her legacy, you could read our own Michael Bourne on the hidden character of Atticus Finch, or else read Robert Rea on a pilgrimage he took to her home.
It’s not Christmas, but it’s close. It’s time for the Literary Review’s annual Bad Sex Award Shortlist to be released. This year’s finalists include My Education author Susan Choi and famous folk singer Woody Guthrie among others, and the winner(?) will be announced on December 3rd. (Bonus: Their Twitter account is sharing particularly awful excerpts as well.)
In The New York Times Magazine, Heather Havrilesky cautions against “The Divorce Delusion,” or one of modern drama’s most unrealistic tropes. “Infidelity, a love child (or two), dalliances with prostitutes, lewd online behavior; we’ve watched so many spouses bounce back from hell,” she writes, “that maybe we’re beginning to believe that there’s no trauma so great that it can’t be quickly metabolized into a courageous determination to sally forth against the storm.”
“Our literary culture has distended and warped by focusing so much power in a singular place, by crowding the gatekeepers into a small ditch of commerce. A review in the Times trumps everything else. You can’t tell me that this doesn’t affect what is, finally, bound into books, marketed, and sold. Which designates what can be said and how one says it. Why do we cede American letters to a handful of corporations that exist on a single concrete patch?” This piece by Matthew Neill Null at The Literary Hub raises a lot of extremely important questions about what gets published and why.