In a long investigation of Hunter S. Thompson’s classic essay, “The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved” (PDF), Josh Roiland takes readers to church by pointing out exactly what’s so alluring about the piece, which “scholars often point to … as the origin of Gonzo Journalism.”
Chances are you’ve heard that the most important thing a writer needs to make it in the modern lit world is luck. Undoubtedly, there’s a lot of truth to that, but what if there’s another factor that has a bigger impact on a writer’s success? Sean McElwee argues for the importance of something more prosaic.
“The concept that being American means, by definition, having an ideal that you’ve failed to live up to—that’s another crucial thing I learned from [James Alan] McPherson. It is not a rejection of America for Michelle Obama to note that her daughters are growing up in a house built by slaves. Or a rejection of a white writer to point out that Fitzgerald was a racist. Instead, it is American to admit those facts and to find in that admission a way forward.” On American values, Barack Obama, and the legacy of James Alan McPherson over at The Literary Hub.
It’s a big week for fans of literary fiction, with new books by a pair of heavyweights: Generosity by Richard Powers and Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger. There’s also a new (and massive) collection of stories from Lydia Davis. Nick Horby’s newest, Juliet, Naked is out. Finally, Bukowski fans may be pleased to find a new book of never-before-collected poems, and R. Crumb fans have no doubt been waiting for his Book of Genesis to hit shelves.
Whatever your thoughts about the situation in Ukraine, you’ll feel for Year in Reading alum David Bezmozgis, who’s been writing a novel for the past four years that takes place in Crimea. After nearly a half-decade in which few people he talked to even knew where Crimea was, recent events shone a spotlight on the place, which the author had thought of as “locked in a dismal kleptocratic stasis.” (You could also read our interview with the author.)