“[C]an we finally be bold and listen to the artists and the outsiders and the radicals and the freaks and the avant-garde and the base and the youth and the anarchists and all those who don’t want to do business as usual with the limousine liberalism of both the elite Democrats and Republicans? Can we listen to the dreamers instead of the doubters?” Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen has some big, important questions in The Los Angeles Times.
Always pushing the envelope in terms of how we think about books, Reif Larsen has just announced an iPad app for his novel The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet. As the demo video suggests, this something with much more depth and interaction than just a simple port from print to digital.
“Where does the line between the self-portrait and the selfie fall? Both Kardashian West and Kahlo are masters of the form—suggesting that perhaps there is no clear line at all.” Anyone who puts Frida and Kim together in an essay, as Sarah Murray has for The Rumpus, has our full and enthusiastic support. Also relevant: Alizah Salario‘s piece about the naming of North West.
Novels that focus on obsessive characters hinge on persnickety details. The need to depict accurately the mind of an obsessive demands that the novelist overemphasize the trifling and tangential. In The Kenyon Review, Vanessa Blakeslee reviews a new and representative example of the form, The Understory by Pamela Erens. Sample quote: “When the smaller steps of daily life are magnified, does that narrative reach its greatest potential for a unified and powerful resonance?” FYI, Erens has written for us.
Harper Lee may have died earlier this year, but the drama surrounding her final years rages on. Last week, a stage adaptation of Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird was performed in her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, as it has for many years. This time, however, things got a bit contentious. Here’s a dispatch from Monroeville by Robert Rea for The Millions.
Canonical literature isn’t the only way to learn about America. The bestseller list can be equally as telling. Matthew Kahn is reading 100 years of No. 1 bestsellers from 1913 to 2013. He blogs about the books and discusses the project in an interview with Salon’s Laura Miller. When Miller asks what makes a bestseller, he claims, “A lot of it is just a matter of accessibility. A focus on plot and character rather than structure and the prose itself.”