Today’s Critical Linking is sponsored by My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout.
Lucy Barton is recovering slowly from what should have been a simple operation. Her mother, to whom she hasn’t spoken for many years, comes to see her. Gentle gossip about people from Lucy’s childhood in Amgash, Illinois, seems to reconnect them, but just below the surface lie the tension and longing that have informed every aspect of Lucy’s life: her escape from her troubled family, her desire to become a writer, her marriage, her love for her two daughters. Knitting this powerful narrative together is the brilliant storytelling voice of Lucy herself: keenly observant, deeply human, and truly unforgettable.
Following Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential election, at least three publishers are rushing out books targeted to help readers who oppose Trump to cope over the next four years. Two of the books—What We Do Now: Standing Up for Your Values in Trump’s America from Melville House and The Trump Survival Guide from Dey Street—will be in stores before Inauguration Day, set for January 20. The third, Radical Hope, will be released early in Trump’s presidency by Vintage.
Funded by a combination of government agencies and undisclosed private donors, the free App allows locals and tourists alike to read any of the top-selling 100,000 e-books in the world for free anywhere within the country’s borders. But it’s not clear yet, half a year after the app’s release, whether the program has had an impact on book sales overall.
Time’s Lev Grossman blames our increasingly “multicultural, transcontinental, hyphenated identities and our globalized, displaced, deracinated lives” for why any consensus about a single voice now seems impossible. I’d go even further and argue that the “voice of a generation” novel never existed to begin with. For starters, why did we ever pretend novels by straight white guys about straight white guys spoke for entire generations?