“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.
“These stories feature hookups and breakups, substance abuse, and violence so casual it’s as natural as jagged breathing.” Electric Literature has an interview between flash fiction author Len Kuntz and critic and writer David Galef, whose Brevity: A Flash Fiction Handbook was just published by Columbia University Press. The two discuss the state of short fiction, their favorite one-line stories of the year, and how, even in the briefest of narratives, readers should still “feel a connection to the story and characters.” For more ultra-lean tales, see our own Emily St. John Mandel‘s review of Hint Fiction, an anthology of 25-words-and-under short stories.
With college football season officially upon us, I’d like to take some time to recommend some books and articles on the subject of my favorite game. For starters, check out Nick Ripatrazone’s Millions piece about Don DeLillo, sports scandals, and growing up with the game. Next, Taylor Branch’s quintessential ebook on the NCAA’s cartel-like stranglehold on the sport deserves a read from anybody who’s ever participated in or watched college athletics of any kind. (You can get a good idea of the book from his Atlantic piece, too.) And lastly, I recommend checking out John U. Bacon’s latest book, Fourth and Long, which examines how “money, influence and power haunt the league.” (You may recall Bacon’s name from when I reviewed his earlier book on college football last year.)