Recommended Reading: William Shakespeare’s handwritten plea for the humane treatment of refugees.
The Canadian writer Mavis Gallant passed away on Tuesday morning at the age of 91. A frequent New Yorker contributor, Gallant published two novels and ten volumes of short fiction in her lifetime, one of which, Home Truths, won the Governor General’s Award. The Globe and Mail's obituary describes her as having “a journalist’s nose, a cinematographer’s eye and a novelist’s imagination.” (Andrew Saikali wrote about Gallant for The Millions back in 2008.)
The Tide King author Jen Michalski shares a wonderfully honest account of how she managed to write her way out of the closet. “People, mostly nonwriters, are always surprised when I tell them I wrote so much growing up,” she says. “But those words, I want to tell them, weren’t written for anyone else – the audience who needed to see them and the audience for whom they were written was me.”
Emily Dickinson wrote her poetry in a house in Amherst. Mark Twain wrote many of his best works on his estate in Connecticut. And Geoffrey Chaucer, it turns out, wrote in a cramped bachelor pad, nestled in the east side of the wall surrounding London. In The Spectator, a reading of Paul Strohm’s Chaucer’s Tale, which describes a pivotal year in the poet's life.
How did Ian Fleming come up with James Bond? It’s easy to think, considering the political context of his era, that Fleming tailored his superspy to be the ideal hero of the Cold War. Yet there’s another, more prosaic explanation -- was the author simply having a midlife crisis?
A year and a half later, Jessie Gaynor returns to The Paris Review to follow up her much-appreciated “Drunk Texts From Famous Authors” series. (Part one is here.) On tap this time: T.S. Eliot, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Samuel Beckett, Roald Dahl, Jorge Luis Borges, Guillaume Apollinaire, William Blake, and a Flarf poet.