Apparently, great books can be life changing: British prisons have begun using a literature course originally developed in the US and including Shakespeare, Dickens, and Steinbeck to help rehabilitate criminals.
What’s going on in Hong Kong? Last week, a man by the name of Lee Bo became the fifth member of the Hong Kong-based publishing house Mighty Current, which specializes in provocative tomes about Beijing leaders, to vanish mysteriously. A few of those missing have been in sporadic communication with worried family members, letting them know in opaque terms that they are “helping with an investigation.”
“He taught me that poetry can be anything and with that comes great freedom.” Reminiscences by a former student of the poet John Ashbery upon his death. And for a contemporary take on the question of just what, exactly, poetry is and/or might be, see our recent conversation between Jill Bialosky and Matthew Zapruder.
Gordon Lish is famous for being Raymond Carver's very involved editor, but his work has never been thoroughly considered before. David Winters, Greg Gerke, and Jason Lucarelli have set out to change that with a roundtable discussion of Lish's legacy. "What can we learn from Lish? Well, we can take away a set of techniques, to be sure; 'rules,' if rules are useful to us. But we can also salvage something that looks almost lost in our time: a sense of the real, lived stakes of writing, its risks and its rewards."
In 1980, Julio Cortázar gave a series of lectures at Berkeley, which you can now read in the slim, simply-titled volume Literature Class. Among the highlights? This sentence: "I had lived with a complete feeling of familiarity with the fantastic because it seemed as acceptable to me, as possible and as real, as the fact of eating soup at eight o’clock in the evening."
Evidently, Alain de Botton has recovered from the unfavorable New York Times review of his latest book, The Pleasures of Sorrow and Work, for which he excoriated reviewer Caleb Crain, claiming that Crain "killed [his] book in the United States." De Botton was just named Heathrow Airport's first writer-in-residence. During his week tenure at a desk in Terminal 5, he will record his observations in "real time," with his typing appearing on a screen behind him. Afterward, the entries will be collected and published as a book, A Week at the Airport: A Heathrow Diary.