“Now I wrote until near dawn, wanting a map of the literary nation, a beautiful evocation of how we are truly a nation of village and city and prairie and brownstone, of Rockies and bayous and mesas. Novels give to every reader someone else’s home. Can we not see this – we of wonder and grievance?” Susan Straight creates a map of America in 737 novels, prompting us to remember the perennial literary question: What is the greatest American novel?
In The Atlantic Adrienne Green reviews the growing number of Young Adult novels tackling racial injustice and how this increase on the topic is no coincidence. "Coming out of the crucible of the past few years—during which young people have been integral to pushing conversations about the unjustified killings of black men to the forefront—the novels capture the many ways that teens of color cope with prejudice, whether through activism or personal accountability or protest."
Over at The Atlantic, Lydia Millet argues for the power and legitimacy of The Lorax's moral message. Millet believes that the heavy-handedness of activist-minded fiction like The Lorax is powerful partly due to "its shamelessness. It pulls no punches; it wears its teacher heart on its sleeve."
The steady stream of books about and by David Foster Wallace is continuing in 2012. We already noted the forthcoming Conversations with David Foster Wallace, and the calendar now also includes The Legacy of David Foster Wallace from the University of Iowa's New American Canon series, D.T. Max's biography Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace, and Both Flesh and Not, a collection of as yet uncollected nonfiction by Wallace.
Carl Wilson, author of Let's Talk About Love: A Journey to the end of Taste (a book length study of Celine Dion's megablockbusting album of the same name), revisits the enduring and sort of nauseating classic from Titanic's soundtrack in The Atlantic.
At the Book Bench, slides of Roland Barthes’ diaries from 1977 in their original, hand-written form: “His brilliance, which indelibly influenced literary theory, semiotics, social theory, and post-structuralism, can make him seem as distant as he is renowned. Yet the diary entries... reveal Barthes to be extraordinarily sensitive and relatable.” (via The Rumpus)
Feel like something’s off with a person you follow on Twitter? They could be time travelers from the future. In The Atlantic, Robinson Meyer writes about a new study, conducted by two physicists, that sought to find social media users with an uncanny knowledge of future events. “It’s not crazy, and yet it feels crazy when you think about it,” says The Hidden Reality author and Columbia professor Brian Greene. You could also take a look at our own journey to the early days of literary Twitter.