“All this is by way of saying that in the United States we haven’t got any actual royals, and yet almost the very first stories we hear are about princes and princesses, kings and queens. When a little American kid first learns that there is such a thing as real, live princes and princesses, who live in actual palaces, this is liable to come as a terrific shock, though in general a pleasing one. One would like it to be true; it’s a very nice idea, that there is such a thing as an incorruptible person for whom everything will — everything must — come right in the end.” Maria Bustillos on America’s fascination with royalty.
There are all kinds of arguments for reading the canon (Italo Calvino's come to mind) but why should we spend time reading untested contemporary authors? Tim Parks tackles this question, with a little help from Virginia Woolf, for The New York Review of Book's blog, and his argument pairs well with Guy Patrick Cunningham's Millions essay on reading the classics.
"Some of the most impassioned conversation in the literary world has been devoted to highlighting what it lacks: voices of people of color, of gays and lesbians, of those marginalized or oppressed or simply ignored. Look a little closer, however, and you’ll notice this conversation focuses on race and gender while paying less attention to a demographic category that’s arguably just as determinative: class." Adam Fleming Petty on the marginalization of working class lit.
At The Washington Post, Michael Dirda on the dissolute genius Thomas De Quincey (opium addict, original chronicler of addiction, master of the macabre, prolific C19th essayist).
"Starr-Starr, you do whatever they tell you to do," he said. "Keep your hands visible. Don't make any sudden moves. Only speak when they speak to you." Read an excerpt from the Black Lives Matter–inspired YA novel The Hate U Give by A. C. Thomas, scheduled for release next June. See also some of our favorite writers on their favorite political writing, or our review of Nate Marshall’s poetry collection, Wild Hundreds, which critic Emmanuel N. Adolf Alzuphar called "the foremost articulation of contemporary blackness’s dynamism in literature."