Here’s an odd scenario straight out of a Thomas Pynchon plotline: in the course of fact-checking a review of Pynchon’s new novel, Alex Yuhas found himself emailing a person known only as “The Great Quail.”
For The Guardian, Richard Lea investigates the fine line between fiction and nonfiction writing, a boundary that is drawn most firmly in the anglophone world. Pair with this Millions piece in defense of blurring the lines of fiction and autobiography.
“In re-organizing the priorities of book publishing—by inventing new models rather than trying to repeat past success, by valuing ingenuity over magnitude, by thinking of sales as a way to make great books possible rather than the point—indie presses aren’t just becoming the places where the best books are published; they’re already there.” Over at The Atlantic, Nathan Scott McNamara writes on why American publishing needs indie presses. For more of his writing, check out his essay on Denis Johnson for The Millions.
In last week’s Brandeis commencement speech, Leon Wieseltier argued that never has there been a moment in American life when the humanities were respected less but needed more. “In recent years I have come to regard a commitment to the humanities as nothing less than an act of intellectual defiance, of cultural dissidence,” he said.
Recommended Reading: Anne Boyd Rioux on J.D. Salinger, Harper Lee and the private lives of writers.
“Where is the black version of Caddie Woodlawn (a 19th-century Wisconsin tomboy) or Harriet the Spy (a 20th-century Upper East Sider), smart, spunky, fictional heroines for the tween crowd?” Victoria Bond and T.R. Simon fictionalize beloved Harlem Renaissance writer Zora Neale Hurston as a girl detective in Zora and Me.
It goes without saying that Hitler is a taboo subject in Germany, which is why it’s remarkable that a German novelist, Timur Vermes, has caused a sensation with his book about a time-travelling Fuhrer. In the Times, Janet Maslin reviews the first English translation of Look Who’s Back. You could also read Merve Emre on Ben Urwand’s book about Hollywood and the Nazis.