In the current Broadway production of Twelfth Night, Mark Rylance plays Olivia, a role which sees him plaster his face in white makeup and style his hair into a “pouf like a charcoal brioche.” Rylance, the first artistic director of the Globe Theatre in London, projects such a palpable “air of distracted grief” in his performance that “the carapace of theatricality evaporates,” Charles Isherwood writes. The Times theater critic also highlights the work of John Douglas Thompson and Harriet Walter.
New Yorker darling Tessa Hadley has a new novel out this week, The London Train. Also out is the controversial oral history of ESPN, Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN, which reportedly offers up ample doses of insider gossip and bad behavior. And finally, there’s The Influencing Machine: Brooke Gladstone on the Media, in which contemporary journalism is explored in a graphic novel format. Here’s a taste.
In a By Heart piece for The Atlantic, Harriet Lane writes about the “bleak precise nature” of Philip Larkin‘s poetry (what Stephen Akey called “The Poetry of Mental Unhealth” in a Millions review) and about the power inherent in writing fiction. “In my everyday life I have no control, really: who does? But on paper, I hold all the cards. Fiction provides you with a way to shape a world, to exert the kind of power and agency our real lives so often lack.”
With the frenzied holiday season underway, there aren’t many new releases to look at this week, but there are some newly reissued classics hitting shelves. NYRB Classics has put out Alien Hearts by Guy de Maupassant and Everything Flows by Vasily Grossman. Vintage, meanwhile, has smart looking new editions of a pair of Somerset Maugham books: The Narrow Corner and A Writer’s Notebook.
“The morning after the opening sentence took shape, Heller “arrived at work”—at the Merrill Anderson Company—“with my pastry and container of coffee and a mind brimming with ideas, and immediately in longhand put down on a pad the first chapter of an intended novel.” The handwritten manuscript totaled about 20 pages. He titled it Catch-18. The year was 1953.” Happy Birthday Joseph Heller, author of the anti-war classic Catch-22, born this day in 1923 in Coney Island, New York.
“A novel is a trek home from the desert, sometimes a journey you wish you had never started. Exhausting and humbling, just occasionally wonderful. But a short story can come from a deeper part of the cave.” Jane Gardam on why she prefers writing short stories instead of novels in The Guardian. Pair with Lisa Peet’s essay on Gardam’s organically grown characters.