How would you feel if your novels all fell apart at the end? The writer Ann Bauer knows this feeling, and it’s painful — she says that her readers inevitably tell her the endings of her novels are all wrong. (You could also read our own Sonya Chung’s essay on literary endings.)
E.V. de Cleyre writes for Ploughshares about sentimentality. As she puts it, “It is not enough to have a feeling and express it—we must exercise discernment, ask what these feelings we’re feeling are, dissect them, and find the language that matches how they look, feel, smell, and taste.” Pair with this Millions essay on literary sentiment.
“After years of reading, teaching, and writing about the book, though, I’ve come to believe that… our understanding of what is comic and what is serious in Huck Finn says more about America in the last century than America in the time Twain wrote the book.” Andrew Levy writes for Salon about childhood, race, and “dedicated amnesia” in Mark Twain‘s controversial classic.
“He was a glutton for books who treated each text as a plate he was required to clean.” Author and critic William Gass died this week at 93, reports The Washington Post. The recipient of three National Book Critics Circle awards for criticism and four Pushcart prizes, Gass was awarded the PEN/Nabakov Award for lifetime achievement in 2000. See our reviews of Middle C, a novel that took Gass almost 20 years to finish, and his most recent essay collection Life Sentences, which amply demonstrated his background as “a former philosophy professor, but more appropriately a philosopher of the word and an esthete.” We were also lucky enough to have him pen a Year in Reading entry for us back in 2009: “I miss the leisure that let me read just for fun, not to critique, or pronounce, or even to put on a list, but simply to savor,” Gass lamented. Nonetheless, he continued,“I do, from time to time, pick up old friends who never disappoint but will promise me a page or two of pleasure between art and ordinary life.”