In a Simpsons episode from the late nineties, Lisa Simpson, concerned that her mental skills may be deteriorating, manages to finagle her way onto a local TV news broadcast, where she urges the residents of Springfield to read two books: To Kill a Mockingbird and Harriet the Spy. At first glance, the two novels might not seem to have that much in common, but as Anna Holmes argues in a blog post for The New Yorker, the books share “ideas about the complexity, sophistication, and occasional wickedness of young girls’ imaginations.” (You could also read our own Garth Risk Hallberg on Malcolm Gladwell and To Kill a Mockingbird.)
Last November, the University of Southern California announced that it would stop offering a Masters in Professional Writing, ending a program that counts Richard Yates and Hubert Selby, Jr. among its faculty alumni. At The Nervous Breakdown, Aram Saroyan (son of William) looks back on his time as an instructor.
Two weeks ago, Tod Goldberg came out with a new novel, Gangsterland, that centers on a hit man in the Chicago Mafia. At The Nervous Breakdown, you can read an excerpt of the novel, as well as one of their trademark self-interviews, in which Goldberg explains that for the past three years, he’s been “writing and writing and writing. But sometimes, that just means I’m not writing at all.” You could also read the author’s dispatch from AWP.
Recommended Reading: Here’s some helpful advice we all could use — how to raise a mensch: “Less obvious but equally central values that Marjorie Ingall highlights include having a healthy distrust of authority. Jews come from a vertiginously long tradition of ‘questioning, yammering, challenging and disputing,’ she writes. ‘The Talmud, the compendium of Jewish law, is pretty much a bunch of dudes contradicting one another. Each page is a big box of text in the middle, and wrapped around it like a frame is lots of ‘Wait, you think what?’ '”