“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.
Ohio poet Stanley Gebhardt accused Violent J, a member of Insane Clown Posse, of stealing his poem, “But You Didn’t,” nine years ago and attempting to pass it off as his own. The poem was originally published in A 2nd Helping of Chicken Soup for the Soul. Bonus: Kent Russell’s dispatch from “The Gathering of the Juggalos.”
Ahead of its mid August movie debut Kevin Kwan talks about the real life inspiration behind his Crazy Rich Asian trilogy. “But the people who know me, who have read the books, and who are also in that world in Singapore, Hong Kong, and other parts of Asia, don’t get it.” Refinery29 has more.
If the description “a comic thriller about mermaids, the natural world and ruthless capitalism” isn’t enough to pique your interest, you might be inspired to pick up Lydia Millet’s latest by the title of Laura Miller’s review, which describes Millet as “the P.G. Wodehouse of environmental writing.” At Salon, the book critic goes into the many reasons she enjoys Millet’s work, among them the author’s knack for deploying humor at appropriate times. FYI, Millet wrote an article for The Millions recently.