Another posthumously published Roberto Bolaño novel has arrived, The Third Reich. Time to update our Bolaño Syllabus again? Also posthumously published is Michael Crichton’s Micro, which was a third finished when he died and was completed using Crichton’s notes by Richard Preston. Also new this week is Stephen Sondheim’s Look, I Made a Hat: Collected Lyrics (1981-2011).
On July 8th 1618, Ben Jonson set out walking from London. Over the next few months, he traveled 400 miles on foot until he reached Edinburgh on September 5th. To commemorate the epic voyage, a team of researchers is re-enacting the walk online by updating a dedicated blog, Twitter page, and Facebook profile with a series of posts corresponding to dates, locations and occurrences Jonson experienced along the way. All this sounds grand enough, but I’ll be really impressed when somebody truly re-enacts Jonson’s mock-epic poem about paddling London’s disgusting Fleet Ditch: “On The Famous Voyage.”
“Elizabeth Hardwick, a formidable feminist in a different key, declared, ‘I don’t know what happened. She got swept too far. She deliberately made herself ugly and wrote those extreme and ridiculous poems.’” On the (difficult) art and activism of Adrienne Rich.
Recommended (Long) Reading: This lengthy excerpt from the latest book in Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle series. In it, Knausgaard is introduced to the literary world and stresses a great deal over his own claims to artistic merit: “Deep down, I was decent and proper, a goody-goody, and, I thought, perhaps that was also why I couldn’t write. I wasn’t wild enough, not artistic enough, in short, much too normal for my writing to take off. What had made me believe anything else? Oh, but this was the life-lie.”
With the full trailer out for the upcoming James Bond release, Skyfall, I have to confess I’m totally obsessing over British spy stuff of late. Luckily there are some supplements to scratch that itch: Tina Rosenberg’s new story for The Atavist, D for Deception, about a real British spy writer who became a spy himself; Bee Wilson’s fascinating review of Ben MacIntyre’s outrageous but true investigation of WWII double agents, Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies; Alexander Cockburn’s recap of the time George Orwell supplied “a list of the names of persons on the left who he deemed security risks” to the IRD; the story of Ernest Hemingway’s lousy espionage; and the video Her Royal Majesty’s recent skydiving escapade with 007.