Sometimes — like now, say — an artist has to ask what it means to continue working. At The Rumpus, Lara Downes explores her resolve to keep playing and teaching music, and writes about what she’s done while teaching in Louisville this week.
In the latest edition of By the Book, Neil Patrick Harris explains his love of Gone Girl, Steve Martin, and John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces. We’ve written about the series in the past — you might want to look back on the entries by Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Colson Whitehead.
“Almost as soon as the concept of the Great American Novel was invented, in the nation-building years after the Civil War, Buell finds it being mocked, noting that one observer dryly put it into the same category as ‘other great American things such as the great American sewing-machine, the great American public school, and the great American sleeping-car.’ It was enough of a cliché by 1880 for Henry James to refer to it with the acronym ‘GAN,’ which Buell employs throughout his book.” On the reigning gold standard for quality in American fiction. (Related: we asked nine experts their picks for the best American novel.)
A newly released Roald Dahl collection, The Missing Golden Ticket and Other Splendiferous Secrets, includes a secret ending to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and excerpts from the author’s hilariously bad report cards. Wrote one teacher about Dahl in 1931: “A persistent muddler. Vocabulary negligible, sentences malconstructed. He reminds me of a camel.” (via Galley Cat)
South Florida readers! Assuming you’re done voting by now, you should make next week’s Miami Book Fair International a priority. Afterward, you can go celebrate thirty years of Books & Books, the jewel of Coral Gables. (And perhaps to warm up for it all, you can read my review of Tom Wolfe’s Back to Blood.)