Dominic Umile recalls his directionless 20s spent working menial jobs, reading Ray Bradbury, and the day his hero wrote him back.
“Creating a unique package for a book is really about making potential readers see the book as a singular thing in a sea of sameness. Something that has a soul.” Jason Booher talks with Slate Book Review about the process of designing book covers in general and the cover of Forensic Songs, dubbed “the most awesome book cover of the summer,” in particular.
“Would I have carried myself with the same swagger, or faced adversity with such feminine resolve, without Albertine as my guide?…I was drawn to a striking, remote face—rendered violet on black—on a dust jacket proclaiming its author ‘a female Genet.’ It cost 99 cents, the price of a grilled cheese and coffee at the Waverly Diner, just across Sixth Avenue. I had a dollar and a subway token, but after reading the first few lines I was smitten—one hunger trumped another and I bought the book.” Patti Smith introduces Astragal by Albertine Sarrazin, recently rereleased by New Directions.
Whether you admire the work of e.e. cummings or think of him mainly as the inspiration for your high school’s worst poet, you’ll enjoy this excerpt of Susan Cheever’s new biography, which touches on the poet’s later years and his relationship with Cheever’s father. The two (contrasting) money quotes here are Malcolm Cowley’s claim that cummings was “the most brilliant monologuist I have known” and this exasperated question posed by Helen Vendler: “What is wrong with a man who writes this?
“I don’t think writing the truth makes you strong by default. I think it makes you vulnerable, which in turn can make you strong.” Amy Jo Burns writes for Ploughshares about the difficulties of “Writing About Other People” and the upcoming publication of her debut memoir, Cinderland.
“denial. A defense mechanism predicated on your inability to accept the painful reality that you are supposed to be reading the selected novel that you literally tried to bury.” At The Toast, Zane Shetler writes a glossary of book club defense mechanisms. Pair with: Our essay on spying on your book club friends.
Is readability a myth? In an article for The Atlantic Noah Berlatsky argues that there are no “easy” or “difficult” books, or rather that these are relative terms – a book that gives one person fits may be light reading for someone else. His argument pairs interestingly with our own Emily Colette Wilkinson‘s “Difficult Books” series.