How has a spirit legally defined as being “without distinctive character, aroma, taste, or color” flourished in today’s economic climate? Victorino Matus‘ Weekly Standard article explores the history and ubiquity of vodka. Perhaps this article is best paired with something from NPR‘s list of “Great American Writers and Their Cocktails.”
In response to the Bookends question, “What is the Best Portrayal of a Marriage in Literature?,” Year in Reading alum Leslie Jamison writes movingly about the poetry of Jack Gilbert and concludes that “this is marriage: not knowing one’s wife but constantly relearning her, not possessing her but rediscovering her, constantly finding a new beloved within the already familiar spouse.” For a slightly different perspective on marriage in literature, look no further than our own Matt Seidel‘s “Survey of Literature’s Non-Traditional Marriage Proposals.”
In his look ahead to interesting books coming out in 2011, Scott Esposito includes the book I co-edited, The Late American Novel: Writers on the Future of Books, which features pieces by Jonathan Lethem, Rivka Galchen, Benjamin Kunkel, and several other great writers and is due out in March.
If you’re looking for some great poetry, check out these classic poems that will change your life, from Robert Frost’s “This Man Stops By Woods On a Snowy Eve… You Won’t Believe What Happens Next!” to Gwendolyn Brooks’s “We Real Cool… and You Can Be Too After These 5 Easy Tricks.” Pair with this Millions piece on poetry for people who hate poetry.
In the Atlantic‘s annual fiction supplement, Joyce Carol Oates writes about the loss of her husband of 48 years and the split identity of the well-known writer: “My job at the university is to impersonate ‘Joyce Carol Oates’ […] this quasi-public self […] is scarcely visible to me, as a mirror-reflection, seen up close, is scarcely visible to the viewer.”