At Condalmo, Matthew Tiffany‘s review of David Lipsky’s new book, Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip With David Foster Wallace: “You can’t go more than two or three pages without Lipsky’s shadow falling over the text. And you aren’t reading this book for the Lipsky, are you? The biggest problem here is that, like it or not, his fingerprints are all over it. And I didn’t like it.”
If you’ve ever had a successful friend you secretly envied and maybe even hated, you may be in startlingly good company: a new reading of an old letter between Groucho Marx and T.S. Eliot indicates that the “flamboyant misanthrope and the restrained one” shared exactly this kind of frenemyship. Unrelated: a short recording of Eliot reading “The Naming of Cats.”
Recommended Reading: On Carmen Balcells, “The Woman Behind Latin America’s Literary Boom,” in The New Yorker. Her authors called her “Big Mama” after Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s queen of Macondo. She worked with many of the authors included on our Latin American Nobel Candidates list.
“In fact, I think Plath has turned out to be a much better poet than Hughes ever was. Of course he won all the prizes, and his name is on the stones in Poet’s Corner and OK, he’s pretty good, but not that good, whereas she gets better and better.” Granta interviews the critic Al Alvarez, onetime friend of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes.
I know, I know – another piece about “the canon.” This one, however, is sure to elicit a response one way or another. A sampling: “There are few (arguably no) female poets writing in Chaucer’s time who rival Chaucer in wit, transgressiveness, texture, or psychological insight. The lack of equal opportunity was a tremendous injustice stemming from oppressive social norms, but we can’t reverse it by willing brilliant female wordsmiths into the past. Same goes for people of color in Wordsworth’s day, or openly queer people in Pope’s, or …”
MacArthur Genius™ Deborah Eisenberg, whom we’ve often celebrated here, publishes her 1,000-page Collected Stories this month – we ardently commend it to your attention. If you’ve read ’em all already, get your Eisenberg fix at the NYRB, where she reviews Dezsõ Kosztolányi‘s “quiet, shattering, perfect” novel Skylark.