Valentine’s Day may be all about happy couples, but the most memorable love stories in literature are tales of doom, from Oedipus to Romeo and Juliet to the many dysfunctional partnerships that populate contemporary literature. The Guardian offers a literary lovers’ quiz for the lovelorn.
“Mom would meet up with us in the museum, take us to study Impressionist or Modern art. It always made me want to puke, but we did it every weekend for over a year.” Smithsonian Magazine has a lovely piece about the story behind the children’s classic From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, including lots of anecdotes from author E.L. Konigsburg‘s kids.
“The female writers whose work has most recently come in for enthusiastic appraisal are by no means a homogeneous group; their influences, preoccupations and style vary wildly.” The Guardian profiles six women authors – Beryl Bainbridge, Anita Brookner, Angela Carter, Jenny Diski, Elizabeth Jane Howard, and Molly Keane – whose posthumous legacies continue to grow. Alix Hawley wrote a fantastic tribute to Brookner here earlier this year, noting, “[n]obody does depression quite so elegantly.”
In spite of the title of her blog post, Lily Meyer doesn’t think Ann Patchett is really an enemy of Zadie Smith. Instead, she thinks the two authors play opposing roles in her life, thanks largely to the different effects their books have on her perceptions. At the Ploughshares blog, she contrasts their novels, using excerpts from White Teeth and Bel Canto. Related: Kevin Charles Redmon’s review of Patchett’s novel State of Wonder.
“Summer morning is risen / and to even it wends / and still I’m in prison / without any friends.” Start your Monday off right with this piece from The Paris Review on John Clare, Christopher Smart, and the poetry of the asylum. Speaking of the madhouse, here’s a piece on Anne Sexton and her book Transformations.
“I took my son to Paris fashion week, and all I got was a profound understanding of who he is, what he wants to do with his life, and how it feels to watch a grown man stride down a runway wearing shaggy yellow Muppet pants.” Michael Chabon writes a beautiful piece for GQ about going couturing with his son, Abraham. Pair with yesterday’s essay by R. J. Hernández on fashion in literary fiction.