Late December is upon us, and ‘tis the season—not only for holiday cheer (or not, depending on taste), but also year-end lists, as any good netizen will tell you. We at Library of America are by no means immune to the list-making compulsion, not least of all because it’s an opportunity for us to see what resonated with our Web audience over the past year. Below are our most popular blog posts of the past twelve months.
1. Forthcoming from Library of America: Winter–Spring 2018
As always, a sneak preview of upcoming titles was a hit with the LOA audience, who learned about new writers entering the series (Wendell Berry, Norman Mailer) and returning names (Albert Murray, Elmore Leonard) in this May post.
2. Slaughterhouse-Five: Unstuck in time, but alive and affecting on screen
Tom Carson’s Moviegoer column argued for a reevaluation of the 1972 George Roy Hill adaptation of the Kurt Vonnegut classic, published three years earlier. Interestingly, a few months after Carson’s essay appeared, Variety reported that a premium-cable TV adaptation of the novel is in the works.
3. The “tragedy of desire” in An American Tragedy and A Place in the Sun
Imogen Sara Smith contrasted drastically different approaches to Theodore Dreiser’s mammoth 1925 novel in this March Moviegoer column.
4. The Swimmer: A prophetic modernist fable set in a fading Eden
For The Moviegoer, critic Michael Atkinson dove into this relatively underappreciated John Cheever adaptation, which stars Burt Lancaster as a kind of suburban aquaman trying to outswim his personal demons.
5. In a Lonely Place: Film noir as an opera of male fury
The 1950 film version of Dorothy B. Hughes’s novel about a serial killer diverges from its source material in notable ways. But, as Carrie Rickey writes for The Moviegoer, the movie’s treatment of misogyny is memorably disturbing in its own right—and propelled Humphrey Bogart to a “career-best” performance.
6. Unforgettable lonely boy James Dean carries East of Eden on his narrow shoulders
Like the movie itself, Steinbeck’s novel, and James Dean, Sheila O’Malley’s Moviegoer contribution never gets old.
7. “Here I am”: Philip Roth reflects on his half-century career as a writer
In an exclusive Q & A with Library of America, Philip Roth surveyed more than fifty years’ worth of his nonfiction and concluded, “What did I learn? The magnitude of the hatred that can be inspired by writing.”
8. Laura Ingalls Wilder biographer on the “deep and unresolved tensions” in the Little House books
Caroline Fraser, who edited the two-volume LOA edition of Laura Ingalls Wilder, scored a major critical success with her new biography of Wilder.
9. Hello, Dolly! is still looking swell on the big screen
Armond White’s Moviegoer exploration of how “the last big-budget Hollywood musical” actually fulfills Thornton Wilder’s complex aesthetic intentions proved remarkably pertinent when Bette Midler won a Tony for her star turn in the Broadway revival of Hello Dolly! three months later.
10. Free copies of The Essential Hamilton available for U.S. high school teachers
Word spread fast when Library of America was able to offer free copies of its new paperback The Essential Hamilton: Letters & Other Writings to secondary school teachers of history and social studies. The campaign was a gratifying success, with more than 1,200 copies of the book—a distillation of Hamilton intended for general readers—distributed so far.