Caution: Too much reading can lead to retinal tears. At The New York Times, Charles McGrath recounts the perils of being a National Book Award judge and having to read 407 books in just four months.
A half-century ago, Thomas Berger published Little Big Man, a satire of Westerns that helped increase the stature of the Western genre as a whole. To mark the book’s 50th anniversary, Allen Barra reflects on its legacy, suggesting that it’s as good a candidate as any for the title of Great American Novel. Related: Daniel Kalder on the odd phenomenon of the Euro-Western.
Does a writer make the city or does the city make the writer? At Grantland, Michael Weinreb discusses why Elmore Leonard is the ultimate Motor City writer and discovers Leonard's Detroit. "Without his books, the city would still have suffered the same hellish decline. But because of him, that suffering was rendered into an art form all its own." Pair with: Our own Bill Morris writing against Detroit's ruin porn reputation.
Last week, Kyle Boelte reviewed On Immunity by Eula Biss, delving into its lengthy history of inoculation and public health. At the Harper’s blog, Jeffery Gleaves talks with Biss as part of their Six Questions feature, asking her about Susan Sontag, public versus private danger and the relationship between capitalism and anti-vaccination sentiment.
Mark O'Connell's recent essay in these pages discussed how long, challenging novels can hold you captive (in both the good and bad senses of that phrase). Now, in the Times, Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott come to the defense of "the slow and the boring" in film, responding Dan Kois's Times Magazine piece confessing he's "suffering from a kind of culture fatigue and have less interest in eating my cultural vegetables."