Roundup: History Lessons

Bookslut points to a great Wisconsin Public Radio feature called “Author! Author!” (not to be confused with this). Last year’s “Pulp Fiction” segment is especially rich, including Chris Ware, Tom Wolfe, John Wesley Harding, and Studs Terkel discussing Nelson Algren‘s Chicago: City on the Make, number two on my personal list of great books about Chicago. (Here’s number one, immortal.)

Kevin J. Hayes, author of American Literature: A Very Short Introduction, is back again, this time looking for advice about autobiographies. Not my bailiwick, but a few personal favorites that spring to mind: John Updike‘s Self-Consciousness, Paul Auster‘s Hand to Mouth (one of my favorite being-a-writer memoirs), Alison Bechdel‘s Fun Home, Woody Guthrie‘s Bound for Glory. Tough one. What’s the distinction between an autobiography and a memoir? Can you not write about James Frey and still claim you were comprehensive in discussing this?

Nathaniel Hawthorne‘s house doesn’t appear to be in the same dire straits as Edith Wharton‘s, but it still needs help.

In relation to its recent “What I’ve Learned” feature on Gore Vidal, Esquire dusts off Vidal’s 1962 review of Robert Gover‘s first novel, One Hundred Dollar Misunderstanding:

And he has written a tragedy, for all of us; he reveals the emptiness and banality of a bored society’s emotional responses, not to mention the poverty of its dialogue. There is always a division between what a society does and what it says it does, and what it feels about what it says and does. But nowhere is this conflict more vividly revealed than in the American middle class’s attitude toward sex, that continuing pleasure and sometimes duty we have, with the genius of true pioneers, managed to tie in knots. Robert Gover unties no knots but he shows them plain and I hope this book will be read by every adolescent in the country, which is most of the population.

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