This one won’t do much to lift the Sunday spirits, but it’s an important read nonetheless. Here’s Ed Miliband’s thoughtful essay at the London Review of Books on the growing inequality problem in Britain, which should look very familiar to those of us stateside. Here are a couple of less depressing Britain-related links to bring you back around.
“I would argue that decent books coverage in a daily newspaper — especially when it’s presented in such a way that readers are likely to stumble over it and discover titles they might not otherwise have heard of — is more supportive of writers in the long run than a scholarship program.” At Salon, Laura Miller explores literary culture and the downsides of the MFA, which include teaching high school.
For the most part, Alexis de Tocqueville had good things to say about the young United States in his book Democracy in America, which is probably why we tend to forget that he thought Americans weren’t funny. What de Tocqueville missed, according to a new history of American humor, is the extent to which American funniness emerged from subversive groups of outsiders. In Bookforum, Ben Schwartz takes stock of the arguments in American Fun.
“While pressure from Amazon forced Borders out of business in 2011, indie bookstores staged an unexpected comeback. Between 2009 and 2015, the ABA reported a 35% growth in the number of independent booksellers, from 1,651 stores to 2,227.” Professor Ryan Raffaelli read this surprising statistic and decided to study what exactly independent bookstores were doing in order to reinvent themselves and thrive. He found it has to do with indies embracing the three Cs; community, curation and convening. The full report will be released in 2018 but you can glimpse a preview here. Three cheers for indies!
New this week: God Help the Child by Toni Morrison; The Blondes by Emily Schultz; The Miracle Girl by Andrew Roe; Positive by David Wellington; This Is How It Really Sounds by Stuart Archer Cohen; When the Night Comes by Favel Parrett; Seven Devils by M.G. Miller; and Paris Red by Maureen Gibbon. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great 2015 Book Preview.
New this week: Moonglow by Michael Chabon; I’ll Take You There by Wally Lamb; Morning, Paramin by Derek Walcott and Peter Doig; Selected Poems 1968-2014 by Paul Muldoon; and a new Richard Pevear translation of Alexander Pushkin’s complete prose. For more on these and other new titles, go read our latest fiction and nonfiction book previews.