Thirty-eight letters written from the To Kill a Mockingbird author to a friend from 2005-2010 are up for auction this week, including Harper Lee‘s reaction to Barack Obama‘s inauguration. See also: this close reading of the birds themselves.
For the most part, Alexis de Tocqueville had good things to say about the young United States in his book Democracy in America, which is probably why we tend to forget that he thought Americans weren’t funny. What de Tocqueville missed, according to a new history of American humor, is the extent to which American funniness emerged from subversive groups of outsiders. In Bookforum, Ben Schwartz takes stock of the arguments in American Fun.
For The Brooklyn Rail, John Ashbery answers some questions about writing in French, crushes on boys, and the presence of “it.” As he puts it, “I’m sort of notorious for my use of the pronoun ‘it’ without explaining what it means, which somehow never seemed a problem to me.”
This past Monday The Paris Review revealed the winners of the first annual Honey & Wax Book Collecting prize. This prize is different from the average literary prize because it focuses on celebrating women under 30 who have a passion for collecting books. The prize was created by the Brooklyn bookstore, Honey & Wax. The owners “O’Donnell and Romney had observed that although the young women who entered their store were passionate about their collections, they rarely referred to themselves as collectors. Their hope is to ‘encourage young women who are actively collecting books to own and share that part of their lives, and to think strategically about the future of their collections.’” Meet the women and their incredible collections here and pair it with our post on the complete archives of The Paris Review.