“How can we represent four hundred years of American literary history in a way that doesn’t reinforce the unfortunate hierarchies of those four hundred years?” Year in Reading alum Rebecca Makkai writes for Electric Literature about the opening of the new American Writers Museum in Chicago and what it means to curate an historical canon of letters. See also: our interview with Makkai from a couple of years back.
Vintage International released Cormac McCarthy’s screenplay for The Counselor, the new Ridley Scott film which our own Nick Moran wrote about on Saturday. Also out: Quiet Dell by Jayne Anne Phillips; Identical by Scott Turow; The Last Animal by Abby Geni and The Luminaries by Booker Prize shortlister Eleanor Catton, which Martha Anne Toll reviewed for us on Monday. (For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-half 2013 Book Preview.)
Anwen Crawford reflects on newly published letters from Sylvia Plath; “The belief among many of Plath’s devotees seems to be that if we can get clear of other people’s fingerprints on her texts, allowing Plath to ‘fully narrate her own autobiography,’ as the editors here describe it, we will at last solve the riddle of her. The extremities of her poetry will balance against the circumstances of her life; the latter will equal the former. But her griefs were ordinary; it is what she did with them that wasn’t. Plath turned her common sorrows—dead father, mental illness, cheating husband—into something like an origin story for pain itself, as if her own pain preceded the world.” In the New Yorker
Recommended Reading: Jesse Eisenberg’s stream of conscious New Yorker short story, “A Short Story Written With Thought-to-Text Technology.” “When he was younger he used to stay late after school on Fridays and come in early on Mondays, a pattern his mother referred to with equal parts admiration and disdain as ‘studying overtime.’ Jesus, I’ve written another loser.”