In the first two lines of a piece in the latest New Yorker about the Alaskan poet Olena Kalytiak Davis, Dan Chiasson points out that her new book, The Poem She Didn’t Write and Other Poems, has an undeniably excellent title. In describing her appeal, he says that her submissions to the canon are “anti-submissions,” by which he means that she actively rejects association with more famous poets. “Davis’s professed unworthiness is one of many tricky manifestations of her ambition,” he writes.
Martin Amis’ The Pregnant Widow is out today (Kakutani sez, “remarkably tedious” but The Guardian adds, “Amis might draw comfort from the long and distinguished list of Kakutani’s literary victims.”) Also out, Sebastian Junger’s War, the result of time spent embedded with a platoon of the 173rd Airborne brigade in Afghanistan.
“It’s rough out there for artists and writers right now, I know. There are days when you just want to throw in the towel, say fuck it, fake your own death, give insurance fraud a go, and live out of a Winnebago somewhere in remote Ontario. That’s a good plan—that’s a really good plan—but remember, you’ve got options.” The Paris Review considers the life of artist Reuben Kadish, who bought a disused dairy farm, made it a viable business in a decade’s time, and changed his medium from painting to sculpture in the process.
For those of us who refuse to trade in the typewriter, however, there’s always our popular piece on how to write a novel.
Following a long battle with cancer, David Rakoff died Thursday night at the age of 47. Rakoff recently delivered a novel entitled Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die; Cherish, Perish to Doubleday, and fans can look out for it next year. Reflections on Rakoff’s life and legacy can be read courtesy of Jason Diamond and Choire Sicha, and two of Rakoff’s best This American Life pieces can be found here and here.