Sex and the City and the Best of Everything

Shortly before Rona Jaffe’s death in 2005, she wrote the foreword for a reissue of her first novel, the bestselling The Best of Everything. In the foreword, Jaffe described a different time, a time when sex and relationships were not discussed in straightforward terms, the Mad Men-era of married cads and the career girls at […]

Why We Should All Read William Apess’ “Looking-Glass”

A mixed-race man who began life as an indentured servant, served in the army during the War of 1812’s Quebec campaign, and became a traveling Methodist minister. The author of the first published Native American autobiography, A Son of the Forest (1829). A passionate advocate of Native American rights who helped foment the groundbreaking Mashpee […]

Jane Johnston Schoolcraft

American Writer Spotlight: Jane Johnston Schoolcraft

Jane Johnston Schoolcraft, or Bamewawagezhikaquay (The Sound the Stars Make Rushing Through the Sky), was an Ojibwe writer who lived in the 1800s in the upper peninsula of the Michigan Territory. A woman of many firsts, she holds the unique title of being the first Native American and female literary writer to write poetry and […]

Minimalism vs. Maximalism

Since the mid 20th Century, American writing has been broadly divided into two schools, minimalism and maximalism, each exemplified by the dueling greats, Hemingway and Faulkner. Whereas Hemingway relied on sparse prose, scrubbed of metaphor and symbolism, Faulkner was the opposite: his sentences beautifully rambled across the page, and his characters and their shameful histories […]

Rare Books and Manuscripts library at Princeton University

Salinger At Princeton – Part 1

Last year I made an unusual pilgrimage. I flew from Chicago to New York, took the train from Penn Station to Princeton Junction, and walked to a seemingly mundane destination: an inconspicuous reading room in the Firestone Library at Princeton University. I had come to read the fabled ‘lost’ J. D. Salinger short stories: unpublished […]

Common Threads: Stories of Female Friendship

We are living in an age where female friendship is “in” – between Taylor Swift’s squad of celebrity gal pals and Lena Dunham’s acclaimed TV show “Girls,” to the legions of Millennial women who idolized four fabulous friends on “Sex & the City” – it’s everywhere you look. But stories of best friends forever and […]

William Faulkner map

Created Worlds, Part 1

The act of writing fiction is essentially an act of creation. When putting together a novel, the novelist must create peoples and places, bring them to life in a story, and portray them with vivid detail that makes the story come alive for the reader. Many times novels exist as self-contained creations, but sometimes these […]

American Literary Playlists – Part 2

The creative processes of literary writing and songwriting have always been intertwined. Musicians such as Bob Dylan and Patti Smith have successfully crossed over into the literary realm, winning awards and critical praise for their poetry and autobiographies. Likewise, many famous American writers have expressed musical leanings: both Jack Kerouac and Maya Angelou recorded albums; […]