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John Cage–renowned composer, music theorist, writer, artist, and Zen enthusiast–is a a veritable treasure trove of Curiosities. Here’s a video from 1973 of Cage performing his most famous piece, 4’33”, in Harvard Square. It’s hard for even the man himself to top the genius of this inspired performance, however.
This past Monday The Paris Review revealed the winners of the first annual Honey & Wax Book Collecting prize. This prize is different from the average literary prize because it focuses on celebrating women under 30 who have a passion for collecting books. The prize was created by the Brooklyn bookstore, Honey & Wax. The owners “O’Donnell and Romney had observed that although the young women who entered their store were passionate about their collections, they rarely referred to themselves as collectors. Their hope is to ‘encourage young women who are actively collecting books to own and share that part of their lives, and to think strategically about the future of their collections.’” Meet the women and their incredible collections here and pair it with our post on the complete archives of The Paris Review.
In the beginning, God died, and it was bad. Then the pun died too, and despair came over the people.
Having kicked off his career with a book of poetry, it’s not surprising that Ben Lerner is interested in the late Johns Hopkins professor Allen Grossman, who theorized that people dislike poetry because poems are — by definition — failures. In a piece for the LRB, he runs through the implications of Grossman’s theory, touching on poets as disparate as Shakespeare and William McGonagall. Pair with Kate Angus on why Americans don’t buy poetry books.
The New York Times dives into why prisons fear the New Jim Crow certain states have gone to great efforts to allow their prisons to ban it and in other states it’s fairly difficult to obtain if you’re a prisoner. We’re big fans of the New Jim Crow here; it was a Millions staff pick and extremely popular on Year in Reading lists back in 2013.
Kirk Curnutt takes readers on a tour of of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s oft-neglected commercial short fiction. Fitzgerald, after all, “produced 160 short stories [in his life],” writes Curnutt, “earning a total of $241,453 off the genre — more than $3 million in today’s dollars.” Yet the author didn’t think highly of the work, and even referred to himself as an “old whore” because he wouldn’t quit.