"To use the lingo of their era, these novels are square. The protagonists have names like Jane and Barbara; they are not the misfits of which much teen literature is made but instead fundamentally good girls who long to fit in, and usually do ... Viewed through the lens of contemporary culture, and especially contemporary teen lit, these girls should be boring and shallow. But Beverly Cleary’s supposedly ordinary girls are complex: resentful of their mothers one moment and sympathetic toward them the next, willing to do anything for one special boy but indignant when they’re taken for granted." On the unexpectedly complex nature of Beverly Cleary's boring protagonists with Ruth Graham at Slate.
"Some people see things others cannot, and they are right, and we call them creative geniuses. Some people see things others cannot, and they are wrong, and we call them mentally ill." The Atlantic has an excellent contribution to the age-old thesis that creativity and madness are inextricably linked--and tied, moreover, to mental illness--based in part on a sample of students at Iowa Writer's Workshop. Pair with another essay on creativity and the "touch of madness" from our own archives.
Recommended Viewing: Photographer Alec Soth and writer Brad Zellar's LBM Dispatch, "an irregularly published newspaper of the North American ramblings." The New Yorker has a gallery of 14 of Soth's haunting photos that capture the fleeting spirit of America.
At The New Yorker, Meghan O’Rourke lyrically reviews Anne Carson's latest work Nox: “Grief is paradoxical ... The literature of mourning enacts that dilemma; its solace is mainly in the ritual of remembering the dead and then saying, There is no solace and also, This has been going on a long time.”