“The short story, as a form, has plenty of defenders,” the collection of unconnected short stories, maybe not so much. In an essay for LitHub, regular Millions contributor Jonathan Russell Clark praises the unlinked stories of Barbara the Slut and Other People and Single, Carefree, Mellow because “despite a lack of the wholeness of a novel, something complete and true and hard-won emerges by the end.”
In last week’s Brandeis commencement speech, Leon Wieseltier argued that never has there been a moment in American life when the humanities were respected less but needed more. “In recent years I have come to regard a commitment to the humanities as nothing less than an act of intellectual defiance, of cultural dissidence,” he said.
“They’re pictures, not images; displays, not shots; illustrations, not compositions. They are respectful displays of performance—of the demonstrative theatrical antics into which Anderson lets his performers lapse.” Richard Brody on the film version of Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice.
The cuddle trumps sodomy! At The New York Times, the controversial post-feminist Katie Roiphe explores the difference between the descriptions of sex in the last generation of American male novelists (Philip Roth, John Updike, Norman Mailer) and the current generation (David Foster Wallace, Benjamin Kunkel, Dave Eggers, Jonathan Safran Foer).
Out this week: The Book of Joan by Lidia Yuknavitch; Imagine Wanting Only This by Kristen Radtke; A Line Made by Walking by Sara Baume; The Woman Who Had Two Navels and Tales of the Tropical Gothic by Nick Joaquin; and My Cat Yugoslavia by Pajtim Statovci. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
What inspired Samuel Clemens to change his name to Mark Twain? Was it a Mississippi riverboat captain? Did he earn it by “drinking at a one-bit saloon in Virginia City, Nevada?” Or, as rare book dealer Kevin Mac Donnell now alleges in the new issue of Mark Twain Journal, did the author find his pseudonym in a popular humor journal?