Did you know Jonathan Lethem‘s a really good essayist? Thought so. Did you know he has a 450-page collection, The Ecstasy of Influence, coming out in November? Me neither. An amuse-bouche, on Norman Mailer, is up at the L.A. Review of Books.
W.H. Auden lived a secret life, not as a man with a second family or an illicit habit but as, weirdly enough, a genuinely kind human being. He paid for a friend’s costly operation and camped outside the apartment of a woman who suffered from night terrors until she felt safe enough to sleep on her own again. So why did the poet want to hide his good deeds? He claimed he didn’t want to be admired for basic decency.
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.
“Over the years, Gross has done some 13,000 interviews, and the sheer range of people she has spoken to, coupled with her intelligence and empathy, has given her the status of national interviewer. Think of it as a symbolic role, like the poet laureate — someone whose job it is to ask the questions, with a degree of art and honor.” Terry Gross sits down with The New York Times Magazine in honor of her 40th anniversary hosting Fresh Air.
I know, I know - another piece about "the canon." This one, however, is sure to elicit a response one way or another. A sampling: "There are few (arguably no) female poets writing in Chaucer’s time who rival Chaucer in wit, transgressiveness, texture, or psychological insight. The lack of equal opportunity was a tremendous injustice stemming from oppressive social norms, but we can’t reverse it by willing brilliant female wordsmiths into the past. Same goes for people of color in Wordsworth’s day, or openly queer people in Pope’s, or …"