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.
On June 7th Canteen is hosting a battle in NYC’s KGB Bar. The event is called Outwrite and will pit Matthew Aaron Goodman, author of Hold Love Strong, against twelve two unknown volunteers in a flash writing competition. Alexander Chee will be reading from his new novel while the contestants prepare their weapons. This would make a great #LitBeat, and if you’re interested in covering this, get in touch with me here.
For everyone who likes typography and arguments, New York Magazine has a story up that covers the type designers Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones and follows the pair through their success to their ultimate rift. For those who prefer debates with more immediate impact, Mental Floss has a breakdown of the best shots fired in the fight over the Oxford Comma.
Year in Reading alumna Ottessa Moshfegh has a new story in this week’s issue of the New Yorker, titled “The Beach Boy.” Moshfegh also spoke with Deborah Treisman about her writing: “Isn’t it hilarious when people are blind to their own arrogance? For some, no amount of American liberal-arts education, charitable contributions, or hours spent listening to NPR will ever wake them up to their own privileged, bigoted, and classist attitudes. […] One might say that New Yorkers like the folks in ‘The Beach Boy’ are especially susceptible to the kind of stupidity I love to write about—the stupidity of entitlement.”
“Write a short story from the point-of-view of a babysitter who one summer night witnesses something she never expected to see in her life, and then do a ‘find and replace’ in your Word doc until each instance of ‘babysitter’ becomes ‘Navy SEAL.'” Leigh Stein shares some “Writing Prompts for Girls and Women” with The Rumpus. Pair with our own Emily St. John Mandel‘s review of Leigh Stein’s The Fallback Plan.