An international group of forensic experts studying the poet Pablo Neruda's remains, which were ordered exhumed in 2013, says he didn't die of cancer, as the Nobel laureate's official cause of death states. The question remains: was he poisoned? And if you want to see how Neruda lived, perhaps you might enjoy this tour of writers' houses.
At Open Letters, Rohan Maitzen writes about her awakening to the chasm between an academic appreciation for books and "a more personal, affective, and engaged vision of criticism. It has been surprising and exciting to me to realize how blinkered I was about non-academic book culture, and chastening to realize how little use my own specialized reading has been as preparation to join in."
Susannah Hunnewell interviews Michel Houellebecq, France’s controversial literary icon, for The Paris Review's "The Art of Fiction" series: “There is a need for intensity. From time to time, you have to forsake harmony. You even have to forsake truth. You have to, when you need to, energetically embrace excessive things.”
“I just didn’t see the textual evidence for it. If Mark Twain wanted to make somebody black, he would make them black. He was not shy about dealing with matters of race.” For The New Yorker, Mythili G. Rao on the complicated backstory to the upcoming publication of The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine, a “new” children's book by Mark Twain. See also: our consideration of Twain's self-deprecating travelogue The Innocents Abroad.
JT Leroy, who has been revealed as a made-up persona created to sell books, is still being "spotted" in LA and maintaining a blog. Pinky has the details.In his Friday Column, Scott writes about literary fiction that is "much discussed" but doesn't sell many copies.Author (and blogger) Jenny Davidson has a new book coming out.And from the wonders of the world file: Something has caused the lake that sits atop Vanuatu's Aoba volcano to turn from blue to red. Scientists are perplexed.