“The problem with our national lit isn’t just that it’s often written from the same voice; it’s written often to the same listeners. But if you changed the listeners, you change the art.” Tobias Carroll interviews Kiese Laymon for Vol. 1 Brooklyn.
In 1979, William Gaddis taught a course at Bard College on “The Literature of Failure,” examining works that somehow focused on personal failure or insufficiency. These included, among other books, Joan Didion’s Play It as It Lays, as well as Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. In Bookforum, Casey Michael Henry takes on a related genre: the literature of obsolescence. You could also read James Cappio on meeting Gaddis in person.
"Millennials are so frequently hyped as the first digital generation that people tend to forget that we were raised first and foremost with books. TV and the Internet may have shaped our identities, but so did old-fashioned, printed stories." Everybody is tired of the word "millennial," but this piece makes some great points about Arnold Lobel's Frog and Toad series and how it taught children to understand and appreciate their individuality.
An early example of the literary take-down. Willa Cather on Mark Twain: "He is not a reader nor a thinker nor a man who loves art of any kind."
In the past ten years, we've seen many attempts to construct a taxonomy of the hipster, which is why it’s refreshing to come across a novel account of the term’s origins. At The Atlantic, Karen Swallow Prior makes a convincing case that T.S. Eliot, in The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, invented the “cuffed-trouser urbanite on the hunt for authenticity.”