Over on The Busy Signal, Matthew Hunte presents 75 Notes For An Unwritten Essay on Literary Prizes. (22. “Want it? Want it? Of course I wanted it. I wanted it so fucking bad I could taste it!”)
The unwritten rules of steampunk declare that in every steampunk story, the Hindenburg never caught fire, the world never lost its desire for blimp travel and the skies are dotted with hot air balloons and zeppelins. As it happens, this element of the genre stems from old utopian narratives, many of which depicted a future of widespread balloon travel. At Salon, Kyle Minor reviews the audiobook of a new history of the hot air balloon, written by Richard Holmes, that shows how the rise of air travel changed the world’s imaginative territory.
A writer in her own right, Sybille Lacan reflects on her experience as the daughter of famous psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan. She writes, “Father, for our birthdays, would give us superb gifts (I believe it took me far too long to understand it was not he who had picked them out).”
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.
New this week is Marilynne Robinson’s collection of essays When I Was a Child I Read Books. Also out are Arcadia by Lauren Groff, The Vanishers by Heidi Julavits, and The Reconstructionist by Nick Arvin. Finally, the collected writings of the late and beloved critic John Leonard, Reading for My Life, is now out.
“A name serves as a gateway to knowing someone, and usually the person with the aberrant name must create the opportunities. One way is to change her name.” S. Isabel Choi writes on why she chose to go by Isabel in high school. Pair with a piece on growing up with a Paraguayan name in the U.S.