For the most part, your average writer’s retreat is a pretty cushy place. Its amenities are designed to let its guests turn their energies to the difficulties of artistic work. At The Paris Review Daily, Rex Weiner writes a dispatch from a different sort of retreat — a haunted house for writers in Mexico. To read about a more traditional experience, check out our own Michael Bourne on his time at Bread Loaf.
The 92nd Street Y is gearing up for next Monday’s Celebration of Vladimir Nabokov, which falls on the eve of the publication of his last, unfinished novel, The Original of Laura. A recording of Nabokov’s only reading at the 92nd Street Y was just posted at the 92Y Blog, and includes selections from Pale Fire and Lolita. Monday’s event will feature Martin Amis and Chip Kidd, and a display of a dozen of Nabokov’s 138 handwritten notecards, on which he composed the manuscript.
A while back, I linked to a contentious letter between Saul Bellow and Jack Ludwig, written not long after Bellow found out Ludwig was sleeping with his wife. Now, here’s a (somewhat) less angry piece of correspondence, sent from Philip Larkin to Barbara Pym. Sample quote: “Has anyone ever done any work on why memories are always unhappy?”
“We are not buried in history, but surrounded by it. You can’t avoid our behavior being shaped by it, to a considerable degree. We have this fantasy that we are free of history. This allows us not to see the circumstances, the historical circumstances of other people.” The Rumpus interviews Russell Banks about his new book Voyager: Travel Writings.