Back in the Day

Everything New Is Old

The best kind of history is the kind that stitches together 200 essays.

Book Cover Since I don't go out much I can't tell if there is a lot of hoopla around the publication of the Greil Marcus and Werner Sollors-edited A New Literary History of America (Harvard University Press) --although I do take exception to a use of "America" that is exclusive to the United States--looking at this titanic tome's web site one might infer such.

I do know our local Mr. Fussy, Alex Beam, was not overly impressed: "With this many monkeys hammering away at this many typewriters, there is bound to be some good material." Evidencing, shall we say, a certain low level of generosity of spirit.

Though I am not convinced a pastiche of 200 essays qualifies as a history (though part of me wants to argue this is the best kind of history), a compendium on any subject that contains the likes of Sarah Vowell, Michael Ventura, Sean Wilentz, David Treuer, Walter Mosley, David Thomson, Camille Paglia, Helen Vendler, Jonathan Lethem, and many other thinkers is a great value.

Monkeys they are not!
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