Every decade or so, writes George Packer in his review of Dorian Lynskey’s The Ministry of Truth, it’s the same old line: “[George] Orwell got it wrong. Things haven’t turned out that bad. The Soviet Union is history. Technology is liberating.” But these arguments miss the point: “Orwell never intended his novel to be a prediction, only a warning.” For The Atlantic, Packer asks what 1984 means in today’s America.
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.”
“I can’t help but worry that those of us who hoped that the marriage of pop culture and feminism would yield deliciously progressive fruit might have a lot to answer for.” Andi Zeisler on her new book and 20 years of Bitch Magazine. Also check out this Millions essay on feminist pop anthems.
Elaine Kaufman supported writers at her restaurant when she was alive, and the Table 4 Writers Foundation keeps her legacy going with its grant. The third annual writers’ grants contest will award a $5,000 grand prize and two $2,500 prizes for promising writers. Applications are due by November 15 and can be submitted here. For more on Kaufman, read our own Bill Morris’s tribute.
Hooray, consumerism! Or, Happy Valentine’s Day, rather. For all you literary saps out there, here are seven valentines of badly drawn authors that are sure to thaw any frozen hearts. Don’t worry, there are plenty more badly drawn authors where those came from.
“The notebook was there, unharmed, tucked inside a Ziploc freezer bag, with ‘Sep. 8, 1909,’ written in black marker.” After Hurricane Irma passed over Key West, Florida, writer and historian Brewster Chamberlin confirmed the relic he had found in May was safe: a notebook containing the first short story by a 10-year-old Ernest Hemingway. See also: The Millions’ own Michael Bourne’s essay on Hemingway as a “Middlebrow Revolutionary.”