Phillip Roth talks to David L. Ulin at the Los Angeles Times about his latest novel Nemesis, aging as a writer, and how he begins each new novel: “I don’t know very much… I write my way into my knowledge. Then, if I’m lucky, I get a break.”
As you may have heard, this year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the passing of Sylvia Plath. It also, not coincidentally, marks the release of two new biographies: American Isis (the first to draw material from the recently-opened Ted Hughes archive) and Mad Girl’s Love Song (which looks at the poet’s relationship with her “big, dark, hunky boy”). Emma Garman weighs the impact of all this new scholarship at Salon.
How do you describe the life and times of John Horne Burns? He was in turn a military intelligence officer, a schoolteacher, a critical darling after he published The Gallery, a pariah after he published anything else, and a gay man in post-WWII America. In characteristic concision, Ernest Hemingway summed the whole thing up thusly: “There was a fellow who wrote a fine book and then a stinking book about a prep school, and then he just blew himself up.”
“There is, however, more to these poems than just the occasional chuckle. The Google autocomplete suggestions are based on previous searches by actual people all around the world. In the cold blue glow of their computer screens, they ask ‘why am I alone’ and ‘why do fat girls have high standards’. They wonder how to roll a joint and whether it is too early to say ‘I love you’. They seek information on ninjas, cannibals, and Rihanna, and sometimes they just ask ‘am I better off dead?’”
Tonight marks the beginning of Eid al-Adha, a three-day Muslim holiday commemorating Abraham’s near-sacrifice of his son, Ishmael. The annual event draws over two and a half million Muslims on Hajj to Saudi Arabia. It makes for an incredibly moving sight, and this year, thanks to Google’s partnership with the Saudi Ministry of Culture and Information, you can check out a live stream of the pilgrimage from the comfort of your own home.