Philip Levine has succeeded W. S. Merwin as America’s latest poet laureate. Now is as good a time as any to revisit his interview with The Paris Review. You could also watch one of his readings if that’s more up your alley.
“Motherhood has always been contested terrain, but for the last decade or so it’s been a virtual battleground; every year, almost like clockwork, we have another flare-up in the so-called Mommy Wars, with another Tiger Mom or Get-Back-To-Work-er or Can’t Have It all-er launching a grenade as prelude to a book tour. And as much as I have an obvious stake in these battles as a mother and a feminist, I’ve come to find them depressingly repetitive, all sound and fury but offering little in terms of the policies that might actually affect our decisions.” At the LARB, Stephanie Bower gives her take on Why Have Kids?, Jessica Valenti’s new treatise on parenting.
“In no particular order, except one of hallelujah, here’s a necessarily partial list of some other living Korean American writers whose work or person, or both, I’ve had the great good luck of encountering”….you’ll have to read the interview for the lengthy list as well as the thoughts of four Korean American writers who gathered at the behest of R.O. Kwon to discuss the influence and impact of Alexander Chee. It’s full of beautiful insights from Kwon, Nicole Chung, Alice Sola Kim, and Matthew Salesses such as “Alex said he ‘wanted to plant that flag in the culture,’ and until he said that I don’t know if I’d thought about it as a reason to write. The need to exist in the canon, in the literary world. I found that very powerful, and very brave”. Chee’s newest book is an essay collection, How to Write An Autobiographical Novel, that we eagerly anticipated last month.
NYC-area readers are invited to an event this Friday centered on the topic of marketing literature in the age of Gawker. At 7 p.m. I’ll be moderating a panel discussion that includes novelists Fiona Maazel and Tao Lin, literary agent Erin Hosier, and Christopher Kolouris of the website Scallywag & Vagabond. The event, which doubles as a launch party for Canteen magazine’s “Hot Authors” issue, also features two bands, a DJ, and an open bar. More info at 3rd Ward.
Vintage International released Cormac McCarthy’s screenplay for The Counselor, the new Ridley Scott film which our own Nick Moran wrote about on Saturday. Also out: Quiet Dell by Jayne Anne Phillips; Identical by Scott Turow; The Last Animal by Abby Geni and The Luminaries by Booker Prize shortlister Eleanor Catton, which Martha Anne Toll reviewed for us on Monday. (For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-half 2013 Book Preview.)
Yesterday I told you about a ridiculously rare signed copy of T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, a poem famously loaded with coldness and sterility and failed human intimacy. Later this month, some new letters will be published that reveal the depth of Eliot’s mental anguish over the breakdown of his first marriage with his wife, Vivien. Eliot has long been accused (maybe fairly) of treating Vivien with intolerable cruelty and attributing to her mental state, and these letters aim to complicate that narrative.