This is a fantastic piece on W. H. Auden, “The Murder of Lidice”, and the importance of the ideological and political contexts of war. Joanna Bourke writes, “the flood of poems [after the Lidice massacre] actually served to draw attention away from the people of Lidice and towards the swollen sensibilities of the poets and their readers.”
Over at The New Yorker, Roa Lynn recalls going to Pablo Neruda’s home and getting him to write her a poem: “Would he read a few of the poems that I had brought with me? To my delight, he said that after lunch he would take his customary nap and after that he would read our poems. If he liked them, he would write something for our book.” Pair with this Millions essay about Neruda’s house in Isla Negra.
Want a book blurb from Margaret Atwood? Expect a poem instead. Atwood has retired from the blurbing business and now declines in rhyming verse. "But now I am aging; my brain is all shrunk,/And my adjective store is depleted;/My hair's getting stringy, I walk as though drunk;/ As a quotester I'm nigh-on defeated." Pair with our essays on the blurbing blunder: a history of blurbs, blurbs as publicity stunts, and the fundamental question — to blurb or not to blurb?
Out this week: Young Skins by Colin Barrett; Decoy by Allan Gurganus; The Unloved by Deborah Levy; Aquarium by David Vann; The Sellout by Paul Beatty; Crow Fair by Thomas McGuane; and Kazuo Ishiguro's first new novel in ten years (which our own Lydia Kiesling reviewed yesterday). For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great 2015 Book Preview.