“Art isn’t a footrace. No one comes in first place. Greatness is not a universally agreed-upon value. … America isn’t one story. It’s a layered and diverse array of identities, individual and collective, forged on contradictory realities that are imbued with and denied privilege and power. Our obsession with the Great American Novel is perhaps evidence of the even greater truth that it’s impossible for one to exist. As Americans, we keep looking anyway.” Cheryl Strayed and Adam Kirsch discuss the Great American Novel in this week’s New York Times Bookends. For a slightly different take, consider the 9 novels our experts chose as the Greatest American novels, from Moby-Dick to The Godfather.
To celebrate their thirteen-month anniversary, Open Letter Books is having a sale. Buy any two books from their catalog for $22, and you are also entered to win a free subscription for a full year of their titles. Don’t know where to start? Their books include Vilnius Poker, touted as the preeminent Lithuanian novel of the past twenty years, as well as Dubravka Ugresic’s formidable collection of essays, Nobody’s Home.
There’s a new Ethicist in town. Chuck Klosterman is taking over the NYT advice column, and I’m thinking, gee, I wonder what the author of Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs knows about ethics. His first column seems pretty legit, but I can’t wait for him to introduce time-travel [pdf] and other hypotheticals.
“To the list of differences between men and women, we can add one more: the drug-dose gender gap. Doctors and researchers increasingly understand that there can be striking variations in the way men and women respond to drugs, many of which are tested almost exclusively on males.” On the strikingly persistent gender gap in pain.