“If I have a critique of American letters, it’s that the average American doesn’t read broadly enough, not enough work in translation, that we’re too isolated, too narrow in our reading habits, still too locked into boxes like the one built out of white male heteronormativity.” M. Bartley Seigel, outgoing co-editor of PANK Magazine, on his impressions of American literature. Pair with our piece on the submission processes at literary magazines.
Sergio De La Pava, the once and future king of our list of top ten books, gets the interview treatment at The Believer's Logger page. Now might be a good time to scroll back to our profile of the author, whose first book, A Naked Singularity, came out in bookstores in June.
How did Herman Melville’s friendship with Nathaniel Hawthorne affect the writing of Moby-Dick? It’s a hard question to answer with any certainty, but Patrick James Dunagan gives it a shot, drawing evidence from Erik Hage’s book on the authors’ relationship. You could also read Hester Blum’s argument that Moby-Dick is the greatest American novel.
Carolyn Kellogg rounded up a great list of “Terrible Beach Reads,” and it serves as a nice companion to Rachel Meier’s list of “Burnt-out Summer Reads.” However, if you’re looking for a few more titles that’ll keep you out of the water, allow me to suggest my all-time favorite shark-centric books: Susan Casey’s The Devil’s Teeth, Michael Capuzzo’s Close to Shore, and Doug Stanton’s In Harm’s Way.
It’s funny and fitting that Madame Proust, in a letter now on display at the Morgan Library, implored her son to share persnickety details about what time he got up in the morning. Another thing the exhibition, which celebrates the hundredth anniversary of Swann's Way, reveals: early drafts of the book used “biscottes” in place of “madeleine.”