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.)
io9 offers up “The Twenty Science Fiction Novels that Will Change Your Life,” from Frankenstein to Pattern Recognition. (via)Cathleen Schine on the charms of Peter CareyThe “Thomas Bernhard cult” claims a new initiate.F.O.T.M. (Friend of The Millions) Lydia Millet talks about “endangered species, the idea of motherhood, and her stint at Hustler.””Why do scribblers make drinking their second art? For one thing, it primes them for their task.” Writers and booze.Some American Studies undergrads at The University of Virginia have put together an online exhibit titled “The New Yorker Magazine in the 1930s.”NPR’s “In Character” segment considers Hawthorne’s Hester Prynne.
Recommended Reading: Michael J. Avogino‘s “Total Utter Madness: A Story of Soccer” from the Tin House archives. If you’re going to watch soccer all day, might as well throw some good writing in there too, right? An example: “Life would go on, as would the sport of soccer and all that came with it: the brotherhood, the ethnocentricity, the sportsmanship, the nationalism, the love, the regionalism, the racism, class conflict, the sublime, the nonsensical, amongst white, black, brown, Protestant, Catholic, Muslim, Jew, everyone guilty and innocent.”
“How can we represent four hundred years of American literary history in a way that doesn’t reinforce the unfortunate hierarchies of those four hundred years?” Year in Reading alum Rebecca Makkai writes for Electric Literature about the opening of the new American Writers Museum in Chicago and what it means to curate an historical canon of letters. See also: our interview with Makkai from a couple of years back.
Recommended Reading: “The Misanthropic Genius of Joy Williams” in The New York Times Magazine. Her latest collection of short stories, The Visiting Privilege: New and Collected Stories, which was included on our most anticipated list, will be released on September 8th. “When I asked Williams what she wants out of a great story, she replied, ‘I want to be devastated in some way.’”