Do people enjoy writers like Pynchon and Nabokov in part because they’re so odd? A new paper suggests that we tend to like art when we believe its creator is eccentric. The Atlantic reads through a study that’s a bit of a strange one.
The Missouri Review interview with Jessa Crispin, founder of Bookslut. If you’ve yet to stumble upon the decade old literary blog, you might want to start with this recent post from Kevin Frazier on Edith Wharton and Julian Barnes. Or this treat from the archives about Monica McFawn Robinson trying to construct an undergraduate course syllabus on love.
Recommended viewing: Tobias Wolff tried to convince Stephen Colbert that The Catcher in the Rye is J.D. Salinger’s best book. “Do we need to be reinforcing our kids’ bad behavior as teenagers with the idea they could be a character in a great novel? Dad, I wasn’t disobeying you, I was exploring modes of alienation,” Colbert joked.
“Why do we spend so much time with stories whose endings we already know?” Derek Thompson writes about nostalgia and culture for The Atlantic, and his piece pairs well with Katy Waldman‘s Slate essay about “thinking that you’re not getting as much from reading as you used to.”
“Thinking about her life is like sifting ashes. You believe you see the clear outline of a message, but it inevitably disintegrates before you can be sure of its sense. The mantle of a ‘rediscovered writer’ has never settled firmly around [her] shoulders; she has a way of resisting the platitudes of remembering.” Michelle Dean on the writer Nella Larsen.
During the riots in Baltimore following Freddie Gray’s death, the city’s chief librarian insisted her neighborhood branch remain open. Yesterday that librarian, Dr. Carla D. Hayden, was sworn in as the 14th librarian of Congress, the first woman and African-American to hold the position. We wonder what Dr. Hayden might make of our own Jacob Lambert‘s “Open Letter to the Person Who Wiped Boogers on My Library Book.”