PEN World Voices, the great annual festival of International Literature, unveils this year’s lineup for the week of April 26, in New York and elsewhere. Highlights include Norman Rush, Patti Smith, László Krasznahorkai, Rodrigo Frésan, and Sherman Alexie‘s “Freedom to Write” lecture.
Some seriously deranged Amazon customer reviews. (via Doc Searls)A year ago “Our Lady of the Underpass” was a Chicago phenomenon. Eric Zorn revisits.Chimney sweeps and flower pots are the stuff of poetry for Sam.Dale Peck’s recent judgment in the Tournament of Books is scarcely worth mentioning, but I did very much enjoy Kevin Guilfoile’s commentary on the topic as well as his tale about meeting Ken Kesey.Kakutani’s reign of terror turns 25.The Literary Saloon points us to Jonathan Franzen’s new book. It’s a memoir, and like Ed, I am disappointed by that.The Rake chats with Charles D’Ambrosio
A scholar who has uncovered Walt Whitman‘s handwritten documents announced his findings Tuesday at the National Archives. These documents are from Whitman‘s time as a government worker, concerning civil rights, war crimes, treason, and western expansion. View the documents here.
Novels that focus on obsessive characters hinge on persnickety details. The need to depict accurately the mind of an obsessive demands that the novelist overemphasize the trifling and tangential. In The Kenyon Review, Vanessa Blakeslee reviews a new and representative example of the form, The Understory by Pamela Erens. Sample quote: “When the smaller steps of daily life are magnified, does that narrative reach its greatest potential for a unified and powerful resonance?” FYI, Erens has written for us.