“Still, it’s difficult to know whether [Shel] Silverstein, who died of a heart attack in 1999, after keeping out of the public eye for more than two decades, meant for us to read the book so conclusively. His biography and body of work suggest a subtler, and, in the end, perhaps an even more troubling, way of looking at it.” Ruth Margalit on The Giving Tree.
Trend alert: there’s been a surprising proliferation of literary site spinoffs lately. First The Toast began The Butter, and then Electric Literature started Okey-Panky. Now the Los Angeles Review of Books joins the movement with The Offing, an online lit mag launching later this month.
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.)
What do you do when McSweeney’s rejects your humor piece? You could, like most people, slink off and write something new, perhaps after a quick look at the site to get a better sense of what they’re looking for, or you could write a new humor piece about getting rejected by McSweeney’s. At The Nervous Breakdown, Rachel Pollan takes the latter route (with a cameo by the movie Swingers).
We thoroughly enjoyed the latest episode of David Naimon‘s Between the Covers podcast featuring Whiting-Award winner Tyehimba Jess. The conversation centers on Jess’s latest book, Olio, a tour de force hybrid-genre exploration of African-American performers from the period just before the American Civil War through World War I. (Previously: We recommended Jess’s Leadbelly as perfect reading for train travel.)
So you got a new Kindle for Christmas, and you’ve loaded it up with all our ebook recommendations? That’s great, but it may not be enough. Best to add a few ebooks to impress anyone who happens to come across your e-reader, just in case, and McSweeney’s has just the list.