What is deracination, and why is it key to understanding American fiction? In her novel Housekeeping, Pulitzer laureate Marilynne Robinson defines it as “the free appreciation of whatever comes under one’s eye,” inspired by the Western sentiment of “feeling no tie of particularity to any single past or history.” In the Boston Review, Jess Row states that deracination is “a long-lived and nearly universal trope in white American literature,” claiming it represents “an American ideal: not to strip from the roots, but to de-race oneself.”
Recommended Reading: On lyric essays and trauma at Ploughshares. “I didn’t start writing lyric essays until I found out I had cancer. The melanoma buried in my right cheek was at first missed, and then misdiagnosed in its severity. Clark’s stage IV, they told me. Likely in my lymph nodes, but they wouldn’t know until my third surgery, the excision and biopsy.”
The New York Times recently asked Jennifer Szalai and Mohsin Hamid why there isn’t a Great American Novel written by a woman? Both writers concluded that there is no such thing as the Great American Novel. “But if the idea of the Great American Novel is blinding us to exquisite fiction written by women, then perhaps its harm is exceeding its usefulness,” Hamid wrote. We think that’s a bit of a cop out. But a few women showed up on our list of the Greatest American Novels.
“They say ‘kill your darlings,’ but I think darlings are your voice — your favorite parts, the parts you’d admire even if you didn’t write them. Why destroy what you love? If you feel that strongly about something you’ve written, pay attention!” Elisa Gabbert pens Electric Literature‘s “Blunt Instrument” column, which this month involves how to find one’s style as a writer. And for more scrivening advice, see our own columnists Swarm & Spark on the best way to seek feedback on your work,sending a memoir into the world, and whether writing a novel will jeopardize your mental health.
Casting for Josh Boone’s movie adaptation of John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars is coming together nicely. This past week, it was announced that Laura Dern has joined the cast as the mother of Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodley). Production is set to begin next month. A few months back, our own Janet Potter wrote that, “besides a small infinity of other things, [this book] will make you cry.”
“Fantasy is a tool of the storyteller. It is a way of talking about things that are not, and cannot be, literally true. It is a way of making our metaphors concrete, and it shades into myth in one direction, allegory in another.” Neil Gaiman reviews Kazuo Ishiguro‘s The Buried Giant for the New York Times Book Review and considers the power, and risks, of fantasy. Pair with Ishiguro’s talk with The Telegraph about the 10 years since the publication of Never Let Me Go.