The American epic comes in many forms, encompassing an Aaron Copland composition, Orson Welles’The Magnificent Ambersons or Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will be Blood, or even walking through an art museum and falling into a trance looking at the paintings of Winslow Homer. We look, listen, or watch these works because they tell us what we long to know about ourselves as Americans; what’s wrong and what could be better. The characters might not find redemption, the colors the painter uses might not always portray a cheery future, and the stories might seem a little outlandish or even impossible, but there’s always the possibility of resolution, of hope.
Herman Melville understood this with his white whale; Theodore Dreiser did too. William Faulkner passed the idea down to Toni Morrison. James Baldwin saw it in the church, Cormac McCarthy in a dystopian future, Denis Johnson with CIA agents and solitary men of the Pacific Northwest, and Marilynne Robinson dealt with the women of Fingerbone, Idaho in Housekeeping. These authors have shown that the truly great American Epic is possible, but rare and profoundly special.
READ MORE on Flavorwire
Happy first day back after a long holiday weekend!
Today we are loving millionsmillions' “The Great Second-Half 2014 Book Preview,” with two of our beloved Holt titles in really spectacular company! Of course we recommend you read all of these books, but most especially scottcheshire's HIGH AS THE HORSES’ BRIDLES (out tomorrow!) and the much-anticipated DAME Hilary Mantel's THE ASSASSINATION OF MARGARET THATCHER.
We love a good book round-up to start the week!
(image via The Millions)
“The beauty of a book is that you get to step inside someone else’s experiences. It’s as close as we can get to possession.”
Scott Cheshire hopes that readers will dive into the world he has created in his debut novel, HIGH AS THE HORSES’ BRIDLES, a story about a child preacher in 1980’s Queens who envisions the end of the world. Cheshire recently sat down with author Alex Gilvarry to discuss the book, which he hopes will prompt both critical and celebratory thoughts regarding the American personality.
From early praise the work has received it seems that Cheshire may have achieved in his goal. The book was described as, “An unflinching examination of two centuries of American yearning and desire” by Colum McCann when asked what recent books have inspired him in our favorite New York Times feature, “By the Book.”
Be sure to watch the Cheshire’s sitdown with Gilvarry and look out for his interview with Victor LaValle in the upcoming issue of Poets & Writers Magazine.
Happy Juneteenth! How about a little morning history? A long, long time ago…
Let’s start with the fact that news apparently traveled a bit slower 150 years ago, because in 1865 certain states had not yet gotten the memo that the Emancipation Proclamation was passed two years previously. Laggards!
So on June 19th, 1865 Union soldiers led by Major General Gordon Granger galloped into Galveston, Texas (say that three times fast) with the news that the Civil War had ended and all slaves were now free. That became the holiday Juneteenth, the celebration of the ending of slavery in the United States.
Cut to: ninety nine years later…
On June 19th, 1964, after a dramatic political battle, The Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed in the United States Senate. In AN IDEA WHOSE TIME HAS COME veteran journalist Todd Purdum brings to vivid life the struggle to pass one of the most important pieces of legislation of our time, and he does it much better than we could in a Tumblr post, so go read it!
Today is a pretty auspicious date, if you ask us!