In 1952, John Steinbeck wrote that Al Capp, the cartoonist and Lil’ Abner creator, might well have been the best writer working in the world at the time. In the Times, Andy Webster reviews a new biography of Capp, which reveals that underneath it all lay “a toxic chip on his shoulder.”
Recommended Reading: This review, though it is really much more than that, of Daniel Williams’ Defenders of the Unborn. Williams’ book takes a detailed look at the history of anti-abortion activism before Roe v. Wade, but more generally it seeks to complicate our entire definition of activism in the context of the pro-life/pro-choice debate.
You could spend a long car ride thinking about about all of the books that are currently outselling Rand Paul’s newest, Our Presidents & Their Prayers: Proclamations of Faith by America’s Leaders. According to data obtained from Nielsen BookScan, Paul’s book has sold less than 500 copies in two weeks. For reference, the end of Michelle Bachmann’s ill-fated 2012 presidential campaign was foreshadowed by her book, Core of Conviction, selling just a few thousand copies in the same time that it has taken Paul’s to sell hundreds.
“Writers such as Gary Lutz, Diane Williams, Christine Schutt, and Noy Holland palpably employ, in somewhat different but observable ways, the strategy [Gordon] Lish calls ‘consecution,’ the focus on constructing and linking sentences by considering sound and rhythm as well as sense.” At Full-Stop, Daniel Green examines the editor’s influence in a piece on Noy Holland’s new book.