Even if you’ve already seen the outstanding documentary Wordplay, you’ll still want to check out this Atlantic article on how Will Shortz makes his New York Times crossword puzzles.
“Grim was the world and grey last night / The moon and stars were fled.” It looks like even J.R.R. Tolkien might have been a an angsty teen. Two previously unseen poems by the legendary author have been found in a forgotten annual printed by a small primary school in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, in 1936. For another Tolkien-related blast from the past, here is W.H. Auden’s review of The Return of the King, book three of the Lord of the Rings series.
Don’t Suck, Don’t Die: Giving Up Vic Chesnutt by Kristin Hersh is a downright mesmerizing elegy to the eclectic singer-songwriter. Part idiot-savant, part deliberate curmudgeon , Vic Chesnutt (who Rolling Stone has called one of the greatest songwriters of all time) was notoriously difficult to spend a lot of time around. Hersh stopped by Electric Literature for an interview about the book and about losing her dear friend Vic. Bonus: for anyone unfamiliar with Chesnutt’s work, this video will get you close.
Masha Gessen will be the first writer to publish a book about the Boston Marathon bombing suspects, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Previously the author demonstrated her knowledge of Chechnya in her 2012 book The Man Without a Face. Gessen, who is also working on a book about embattled punk group Pussy Riot, will reportedly leave her directorship at Moscow Radio Liberty in order to report on both projects full time.
Doubleday pulled a Beyonce and published Colson Whitehead’s latest book, The Underground Railroad, a month early. Oprah chose Whitehead’s book for her book club, and Doubleday “secretly started shipping out 200,000 copies in anticipation of the announcement.” You can also read a review from Michiko Kakutani at the New York Times.