Recommended Reading: The New Republic on Laura Ingalls Wilder’s new collection of letters and the end of the frontier. “Wilder was disillusioned by a country that no longer seemed to value the achievements of her generation.”
"Art isn’t a footrace. No one comes in first place. Greatness is not a universally agreed-upon value. ... America isn’t one story. It’s a layered and diverse array of identities, individual and collective, forged on contradictory realities that are imbued with and denied privilege and power. Our obsession with the Great American Novel is perhaps evidence of the even greater truth that it’s impossible for one to exist. As Americans, we keep looking anyway." Cheryl Strayed and Adam Kirsch discuss the Great American Novel in this week's New York Times Bookends. For a slightly different take, consider the 9 novels our experts chose as the Greatest American novels, from Moby-Dick to The Godfather.
Azadeh Moaveni writes about what it was like to own her dog, named London, in Iran: "Most Turks, like most Iranians, recoiled from dogs as though they were grotesque vermin; only ‘guard’ dogs, charged with protecting humans and their goods, were deemed less offensive, though still repellent." To Moaveni, it was like cultural rebellion.
New this week: The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota; The Little Red Chairs by Edna O'Brien; Chicago by Brian Doyle; The Destroyer in the Glass by Noah Warren; Dothead by Amit Majmudar; Grateful Dead's Workingman's Dead by Millions contributor Buzz Poole; and New and Collected Poems: 1975-2015 by Jay Parini. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great 2016 Book Preview.