Jennifer Egan recently spoke with Willing Davidson, fiction editor of The New Yorker, as part of Rewiring the Real, a yearlong series of podcasts with writers about the interplay of literature, technology and religion. Rachel Hurn, a former Millions intern, was there and noted Egan’s ambivalence towards “personal writing.” [Updated to correct the quote] “If writing necessarily meant writing about myself, then I’d rather do something else,” Egan said.
“Should we understand a photographic document as being first and foremost an artifact of memory, a light-written ghost? Or is it more important to stress its status as a material thing created from pigment, silver, emulsion, paper, plastic, glass, silicon sensors, pulses of electricity? Or is the photograph primarily an opportunity to take or make, an arena for a special type of action?” On Polaroids, instantaneous photography, and memory over at The Nation.
It’s been a year since Nobel laureate and Irish poet Seamus Heaney passed away. His publishers are releasing a final collection of his poetry in November. In The Irish Independent, a brief retrospective on Heaney’s legacy, which includes his wife’s unique way of expressing her gratitude to his friends. You could also read Trent Morris’s tribute to Heaney for The Millions.
There’s a lot of (justified) talk about the power of reading, but simply owning a book can be meaningful. Mabel Rosenheck considers Walter Benjamin‘s perspective on book ownership – “[it] is the most intimate relationship that one can have to objects. Not that they come alive in him; it is he who lives in them.” – and her own experiences with book collecting in San Francisco in an essay for The Toast. Pair with Anne Fadiman‘s essay on relationships, books, and relationships with books, “Marrying Libraries.”
Peter Ackroyd, a man who T Magazine writer Jody Rosen calls “[an] insanely prolific, controversial and eccentric novelist and historian,” has published, at last count, nearly 6,500 pages of text. That incredible figure equates to more than fifty books, many of them with titles like Dickens: Public Life and Private Passions. (At present, he’s working on a biography of Alfred Hitchcock.)