“Dickinson wasn’t a madwoman, but she was maddened with rage—against a culture that had no place for a woman with her own fiercely independent mind and will.” On Emily Dickinson’s self-creation at Lit Hub. Pair with a piece on Paul Legault’s English-to-English translations of Dickinson’s poems.
If I had been near enough to a computer and had enough time to blog over the last month, I probably would have talked about Nicholson Baker’s new book, Checkpoint. I haven’t read it, so I can only comment on the reactions that I have seen to the book. Most have been negative. The book is about two friends who are sitting in a hotel room having a conversation. One character wants to assassinate President George W. Bush, the other is trying to talk him out of it. The subject matter alone seems to come from a desire to create controversy, and though Baker and his publisher have gone out of their way to condemn violence, Baker has said that he was motivated by his own personal anger to write the book. If you ask me, controversial subject matter + short book (115 pages in this case) + rush to press = literary publicity stunt, and many, including the New York Times agree.Readers of fiction looking for a weekly dose and writers of fiction looking for an audience should check out Weekly Reader, a little website that delivers a story to your inbox every week.Poaching two great links from Arts & Letters Daily: Jonathan Yardley loves Hunter S. Thompson’s new collection of pieces from ESPN.com’s page 2, Hey Rube; and Tibor Fischer discusses the current slate of Booker hopefuls.
Here’s something to cheer us up (aside from the good weather this weekend). Publisher’s Weekly interviews a few Black bookstore owners on how Black indie bookstores have bounced back from a steep decline several years ago. If a bookstore in your city is mentioned, be sure and visit.
To commemorate the book’s 75th anniversary, WNYC and WQXR Radio will present a live radio play of Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God. New Yorkers will be able to catch the broadcast on February 29th and March 1st, and then the rest of the nation can hear it in September.
Part Into the Wild, part Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Howard Axelrod’s The Point of Vanishing is the story of his two years spent in profound solitude in the Vermont wilderness. Called “torture” by prison rights activists and “a threat to mental stability” by psychologists, Axelrod’s decision to sequester himself from society was nothing if not extreme. Alexander Supertramp would be proud.