“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.
“When they’re not at their day jobs, a great many of the island’s 330,000 inhabitants dabble in verse.” The New York Times attempts to understand why Iceland is chock-a-block with poets. A few years back we reviewed one of its better known practitioners (and Björk lyricist) Sjón.
In case you missed it, this past weekend The New York Review of Books likely outed the author who’s been writing under the nom de plume of Elena Ferrante. Condemnation was fast and furious, including pieces by n+1 and this fantastic Twitter thread by critic Lili Loofbourow. We join the chorus of voices who would rather direct the attention back to Ferrante’s work. Might we suggest starting with this piece about The Neapolitan Quartet‘s subversive power?