“The concept that being American means, by definition, having an ideal that you’ve failed to live up to—that’s another crucial thing I learned from [James Alan] McPherson. It is not a rejection of America for Michelle Obama to note that her daughters are growing up in a house built by slaves. Or a rejection of a white writer to point out that Fitzgerald was a racist. Instead, it is American to admit those facts and to find in that admission a way forward.” On American values, Barack Obama, and the legacy of James Alan McPherson over at The Literary Hub.
When The Beatles made Rubber Soul, the band probably didn’t realize it would inspire some of the greatest contemporary fiction. First, Haruki Murakami named his novel Norwegian Wood. Now, “Drive My Car” inspired his new short story. Bungeishunju published the story today, but English readers are still waiting on the translation. Until then, we can always listen to the album. Pair with: Our essay on the soundtracks behind books.
“In spite of herself, the writer has remained loyal. She is loyal to place and the past, faithfully and perpetually reconstructing it, so that no one, having read her, would ever again say, ‘What’s so interesting about small-town rural Canada?’” On a new book of selected stories by Alice Munro.
“Long before the term ‘graphic novel’ was coined to explain long-form comic strips, the artist Milt Gross was making precursors to the format,” and one of his lost works is finally being republished. The work, Milt Gross’ New York, was written for the World’s Fair in 1939 and “follows the adventures of the sausage-nosed, conniving, yet amiable con man Pop.”
“I don’t want to write ‘funny’ books where we all have to laugh our heads of all the time. The humor should come from behind, where we don’t expect it. And the life of a well-known writer is something you can laugh about quite easily.” On the occasion of his new novel Dear Mr. M, our own Claire Cameron interviews Herman Koch over at Salon.