“I live a life of appetite and, yes, that’s right, / I live a life of privilege in New York, / Eating buttered toast in bed with cunty fingers on Sunday morning. / Say that again? / I have a rule— / I never give to beggars in the street who hold their hands out.” Frederick Siedel’s brusqueness makes many readers uncomfortable, yet many others revere him for his “brave cunning.” Whichever side of the fence you fall on, this is an interesting take from Don Chiasson at The New Yorker.
Lolita has been, for decades, a great inspiration to cover designers, and all those great covers inspired architect John Bertram to hold his own cover design contest to see who could best re-imagine Nabokov’s classic. The resulting competition has now inspired a book, coming in August, with a cover by designers Sulki & Min that references a letter Nabokov sent to his American publisher, Walter J. Minton of Putnam, in April 1959 about the cover design for Lolita. “I want pure colors, melting clouds, accurately drawn details, a sunburst above a receding road with the light reflected in furrows and ruts, after rain. And no girls. If we cannot find that kind of artistic and virile painting, let us settle for an immaculate white jacket (rough texture paper instead of the usual glossy kind), with LOLITA in bold black lettering.” More: An interview with Bertram.
“No novel gets uniformly enthusiastic reviews, but the polarized responses to The Goldfinch lead to the long-debated questions: What makes a work literature, and who gets to decide?” Vanity Fair has big questions and lots of opinions about Donna Tartt‘s latest novel, which we’ve covered pretty extensively ourselves.
“There are dangers for an artist in any academic environment,” says former Poetry editor Christian Wiman, who now teaches at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music. “Academia rewards people who know their own minds and have developed an ironclad confidence in speaking them. That kind of assurance is death for an artist.”