The Great Gatsby debuted in 1925 to poor sales and mediocre reviews. So how did it become one of the most famous novels in America? At Slate, Cristina Hartmann explains how Fitzgerald’s opus, which netted the author royalties worth a grand total of $13 in his lifetime, went on to become a classic. Related: our own Bill Morris on a book about the novel by Sarah Churchwell. (h/t The Paris Review Daily)
“The so-called ‘alt-right’ is white nationalism repackaged as retro-chic, and its discourse constantly invokes nostalgia for a golden age in the Confederate South when racism when reigned supreme. The leaders of this project will need to be very careful that they don’t end up just creating a Disneyland for racists.” A coalition of local businesses in Monroeville, Alabama, Harper Lee‘s hometown, plan to open a major tourist attraction built around the late author’s home and fabrications of fictional locations featured in To Kill A Mockingbird. Critics are dubious, reports The Guardian. Perhaps, in lieu of a trip, you’ll accept this essay by Robert Rea about his literary pilgrimage to Lee-land?
New at The Point: an incisive look at Don DeLillo’s Cosmopolis that calls it “the most prescient American novel of the past fifteen years” and asks,”is it possible to mount any meaningful resistance to capitalism on the level of culture?” The latest print issue features this essay as well as a symposium on privacy, and will be launched at a release party in Hyde Park on Saturday night.
After our plea to lift The Bluest Eye‘s recent ban, The Nation has also come to Toni Morrison’s defense. “This pervasive sexual violence is reality for tens of thousands of students, a reality the Ohio Board of Ed is looking to whitewash with this latest censorship drive,” Peter Rothberg writes.
Some seriously deranged Amazon customer reviews. (via Doc Searls)A year ago “Our Lady of the Underpass” was a Chicago phenomenon. Eric Zorn revisits.Chimney sweeps and flower pots are the stuff of poetry for Sam.Dale Peck’s recent judgment in the Tournament of Books is scarcely worth mentioning, but I did very much enjoy Kevin Guilfoile’s commentary on the topic as well as his tale about meeting Ken Kesey.Kakutani’s reign of terror turns 25.The Literary Saloon points us to Jonathan Franzen’s new book. It’s a memoir, and like Ed, I am disappointed by that.The Rake chats with Charles D’Ambrosio
Here’s a book that’s sure to be included in our second-half installment of our Most Anticipated books: Zadie Smith’s NW, which traces the lives of several people who make it out of one of Northwest London’s housing estates. The promotional copy calls it a “delicate, devastating novel of encounters.”