Octavian Nothing: Novel for the Nation

As a professor of American literature, I teach my students about the dual strains of America: optimism in the native goodness of the individual, and a pessimism stemming from the realization of the human heart’s great capacity for evil. Jefferson and Adams. Emerson and Hawthorne. Yet I’m not sure I’ve ever encountered a single book that embodies American optimism and pessimism quite as powerfully as a 2006 novel marketed for teens: M. T. Anderson’s The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traito … [Read more...]