New York City’s municipal grid turns 200 this year. To commemorate, author and Year in Reading alumna Belinda McKeon notes the way New Yorkers utilize it as they “don’t wander so much as dart” from place to place.
Also the name of a beautiful book of poetry by Jake Adam York, a group of starlings is known as a "murmuration." One could make the case that the birds are America's most literary. Each of the hundreds of millions of European starlings currently inhabiting North America is a descendant of the approximately 100 birds released in New York City's Central Park in the early 1890s. They were released by a society intent on populating America with each of the birds mentioned in Shakespeare's plays.
Having kicked off his career with a book of poetry, it’s not surprising that Ben Lerner is interested in the late Johns Hopkins professor Allen Grossman, who theorized that people dislike poetry because poems are -- by definition -- failures. In a piece for the LRB, he runs through the implications of Grossman’s theory, touching on poets as disparate as Shakespeare and William McGonagall. Pair with Kate Angus on why Americans don’t buy poetry books.
Looking for a new literary podcast to fill your downtime? David Naimon’s “Between the Covers” author interview series may do the trick. The series, which appears regularly on Portland, Oregon’s KBOO 90.7 FM, is available for free on iTunes. Past guests have included Karen Russell, George Saunders, China Miéville and Junot Díaz. Forthcoming episodes will feature the likes of NoViolet Bulawayo and Jami Attenberg.
Among the books hitting shelves this week are Pulitzer winner and New Yorker staffer Louis Menand's The Marketplace of Ideas: Reform and Resistance in the American University and memoirist and poet Nick Flynn's The Ticking is the Bomb. Also new, Melville House is putting out a novella, Union Jack, by Nobel laureate Imre Kertész, and NYRB Classics has published Fortunes of War: The Balkan Trilogy a novel by Olivia Manning based on her time in Eastern Europe during World War II. Rachel Cusk provides an introduction to the edition.