So does literature really have the power to bring liberals and conservatives together? Probably not. Either way, this is still a fascinating study: “The ‘most startling result was this: it was conservative — not liberal — readers who are most active in producing this space of cultural compromise.’ Basically, within this sample size, conservative readers tended to exude more generous praise for ‘bridge books’ and did so with a vernacular considered to be ‘less heated or emotional.’ Grammatically, they also expressed ‘more complex thoughts.'”
“What’s the kindest thing you almost did?” You’ll find this sentence by Jonathan Safran Foer on a Chipotle cup next time you eat a burrito there. The fast food restaurant will feature the short stories five authors, including Foer, Malcolm Gladwell, Toni Morrison, George Saunders, and Michael Lewis, on its cups, and unlike guacamole, they won’t cost extra. Unsurprisingly, Cormac McCarthy didn’t make a cup.
Purveyor of popular nonfiction Erik Larson has a new book out this week, In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin. The Snowman by Jo Nesbø is a new entry in the increasingly popular Scandinavian thriller genre. Inward-looking graphic novelist Chester Brown’s latest, Paying for It is out, and musician and actor Steve Earle can now add “novelist” to his resume with the release of I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive. And new in paperback are a pair of big books, Brady Udall’s The Lonely Polygamist and Karl Marlantes’s Matterhorn.
Jonathan Lethem thinks his work is taken too seriously. “Well, I was just watching Richard Pryor, and he says, ‘When you’re dating a white woman, and people don’t like it, you can’t really pretend. You can’t go, “Oh, she’s not with me.”‘ ‘You write the big, ambitious books, right?’ Well, I guess they are,” he said in an interview with Salon. He also discusses being equated with Jonathan Franzen and his new novel, Dissident Gardens.
A while back, I wrote about Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher, which may be the first novel in history written entirely in the form of recommendation letters. Now, at The Rumpus, Anjali Enteti sits down with Schumacher, who talks about writing by hand, the adjunct crisis, and why it’s okay that so many people are getting MFAs. You could also read our own Nick Ripatrazone on why MFA grads should teach high school.