The Second Pass marks its first anniversary with a bunch of writers championing their favorite out-of-print books. Happy Anniversary! (For more out-of-print recommendations see our collection of gems from last year.)
Perhaps inspired by the news, first reported a few years ago, that mad scientists in the Indian army plan to weaponize superhot chilis, Lauren Collins ventures bravely into the world of extreme heat. As a warning to readers who fancy themselves tough, she quotes a doctor who makes clear that these peppers aren’t just hot — they’re lethal.
We all probably had the humiliating experience of reciting a poem in high school. Yet at Salon, Nina Kang believes that memorizing poetry is a lost art. She blames the loss of the discipline on our tendency to skim and new poetry’s seeming aversion to memorization. “Writers actively fight against the appearance of artifice, and often instead strive for an informal, offhand tone, with that hint of clumsiness that lends a certain authenticity to the voice. It turns out this is a quality that makes the reciter’s job that much more difficulty.” Here’s our take on the lost art of recitation.
“I’m drawn to books that deal in fragments and digressions, authors that patch together something larger from these pieces while also letting them stand on their own.” Sam Stephenson writes about “reimagining what a biography can look like” and reading Tennessee Williams: Notebooks, edited by Margaret Bradham Thornton, in a piece for The Paris Review. He also mentions Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh, which Tyler Gillespie recently reviewed for The Millions.
June 7th would have been Gwendolyn Brooks‘ 101st birthday. In remembrance of her we encourage you to read her works and reflect on a legacy. To get you started Shondaland has a good primer on this cool poet, who became the first Black person to win a Pulitzer Prize. Pair it with this essay on Brooks and reading outside your culture.