According to a recent survey, Danes are the happiest people in the world. This came as a surprise, writes Mathilde Walter Clark, to most of her fellow Scandinavians, who know very well the unhappier elements of their daily lives. The problem, she suggests, is that words like “happiness,” “ambition” and “contentment” have subtly different meanings in different languages — in other words, happiness in Denmark isn’t the same thing as happiness in America. You could also read our own Emily St. John Mandel’s review of the Danish writer Jonas T. Bengtsson’s A Fairy Tale.
If you read my Year In Reading, and if you’re a really impulsive person, you probably already subscribed to The Virginia Quarterly Review. However if you needed more than just my testimonial in order to open up your wallet, perhaps their official list of “The Best Writing in VQR in 2012” will sway you.
New this week: Satin Island by Tom McCarthy; The Infernal by Mark Doten; The Half Brother by Holly LeCraw; All the Wrong Places: A Life Lost and Found by Philip Connors; Green on Blue by Elliot Ackerman; Making Nice by Matt Sumell; After Birth by Elisa Albert; Blue Stars by Emily Ray Tedrowe; The Illuminations by Andrew O’Hagan; The Unfortunate Importance of Beauty by Amanda Filipacchi; and Find Me by Laura van den Berg. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great 2015 Book Preview.
From Letters of Note, the correspondence between Fitzgerald and his editor upon the former’s completion of The Great Gatsby (including Fitzgerald’s suggestion for an alternative title: Gold-hatted Gatsby). In response to the many endings of A Farewell to Arms, Slate cooks up 48 canned, alternative endings for Fitzgerald’s masterpiece.