American Short Fiction’s managing editor Jess Stoner is reading local newspapers from one state a week and reporting on the big headlines in a better attempt to understand America. As she puts it, “Not to snark, not to make fun of people from unincorporated towns who write letters to the editor, but to share with you a more complicated, less yell-y look at where we are, with the hopes of better understanding where we might be headed.” The first state is Alabama.
Year in Reading Alum Alexander Chee reviews Rick Moody’s latest release, Hotels of North America. “The present is too cruel for him, and yet he cannot change it, so there is this instead, sentence by sentence, a nod to the past that is really a nod to his own past. A conflation of his nostalgia for the days of his sexual attractiveness and the unencumbered power of white men, all of it dressed up as a love for old words.” To hear more from Moody, check out our recent interview with him.
“Lovecraft Country doesn't just race along, it tears, demanding that you keep turning its pages without interruption. I read the second half of the book while walking in my neighborhood, holding the book with one hand and clutching bags of groceries in the other, and then finishing up in bed with a small LED lamp after my wife had fallen asleep. It's one of those books.” Cory Doctorow reviews Matt Ruff’s Lovecraft Country at BoingBoing.
Medievalist Elaine Treharne teaches a course on Beowulf at Stanford, and one of her primary theoretical questions for her students is, “What is (the) Text? … What constitutes Beowulf?” So she got to thinking. She wondered what she and her students would do “with a social media version of the poem.” What ensued is a distillation of the great epic in 100 tweets, which you can read over here.
George Saunders stopped by the Dinner Party podcast to dole out advice on topics ranging from constructing poems about wolves “making love,” dealing with a friend who’s been fired, sober-drunk relations, and “man purses.”