Our own Edan Lepucki (who has a novel coming out soon, by the way…) interviewed four of the finalists for this year’s National Book Awards: Tenth of December author George Saunders, The Lowland author Jhumpa Lahiri, The Good Lord Bird author James McBride, and The Flamethrowers author Rachel Kushner. We reviewed both Saunders and Kushner’s works here and here, respectively, and you can also take a look at the rest of the NBA finalists over here.
Sometimes, Virginia Woolf took a break from her busy schedule of constant brilliance in order to write children’s stories for her nephews’ newspaper, The Charleston Bulletin. A taste: “When in a good and merry mood Trisy would seize a dozen eggs, and a bucket of flour, coerce a cow to milk itself, and then mixing the ingredients toss them 20 times high up over the skyline, and catch them as they fell in dozens and dozens and dozens of pancakes.”
Electric Literature has published a look at two new Sherlock Holmes fan fictions, “the game,” and various copyright complications, which just happens to dovetail with our own Elizabeth Minkel‘s Year in Reading account of admitting to loving Sherlock fan fic. In fact, loving the great detective has a lot to do with writing well: as Ryan Britt puts it, successful fan fiction authors “all love Holmes and his adventures way more than the man who created the great detective thought possible. Which, today, remains the biggest cultural mystery we’ll hopefully never get tired of investigating.”
For the most part, Alexis de Tocqueville had good things to say about the young United States in his book Democracy in America, which is probably why we tend to forget that he thought Americans weren’t funny. What de Tocqueville missed, according to a new history of American humor, is the extent to which American funniness emerged from subversive groups of outsiders. In Bookforum, Ben Schwartz takes stock of the arguments in American Fun.