WARNING: Do not visit the website for Michigan State’s Celebrity Lecture Series unless you have a substantial amount of free time to kill. Before you even need to scroll down, you have access to audio from Edward Albee, Maya Angelou, Margaret Atwood, and Pat Conroy.
“What if, instead of simply critiquing Go Set a Watchman’s failure, we tried to analyze it? The new, older work makes more sense if we read it as an attempt to accomplish two tasks: first, to master—unsuccessfully, it turns out—the smart-magazine style that Harper Lee developed in her student journalism; and second, to write in a genre that often relied on the ironic elisions typical of ‘smart style’: the midcentury social-problem novel.” Tom Perrin on Harper Lee and the social novel. Pair with Michael Bourne’s Millions review.
If you don’t have a New Yorker subscription and can’t read Dana Goodyear’s wonderful profile of Lydia Davis, then you can at the very least check out the Can’t and Won’t author’s interview with Quarterly Conversation. Or, of course, you could just go straight to the source and mainline some of her short fiction directly.
“[B]eing twelve is its own psychosexual dystopian satire, and I was not in on the joke.” Abbey Fenbert writes for Catapult about Aldous Huxley‘s Brave New World, reading-while-tween, and being a seventh-grade book censor. See also: our own brave editor-in-chief, Lydia Kiesling, on reading Huxley a week after last November’s election.
Jonathan Franzen’s 2011 Kenyon commencement speech, published this weekend in the New York Times, covers love, consumerism, and narcissism in the digital age. If you’re concerned with critical reception, looks like you’re not a creator of “serious art and literature,” in Franzen’s eyes.