The Polish poet and Nobel Laureate Wisława Szymborska, who contributed to samizdat magazines before the fall of the Iron Curtain, died yesterday. Among her more popular collections is View with a Grain of Sand.
There’s a pedestrian bridge spanning Hennepin Avenue in Minneapolis that features a John Ashbery poem written on its steel beams. This is a fabulous slideshow of photos showing the poem. Via been thinking.
“Still, what he captured with genius was the ontological unease of a world in which the human and the abhuman, the real and the fake, blur together.” An essay in the Boston Review argues the importance of Philip K. Dick‘s literature— where the real and fake intersect and collide — and the world we live in today. From our archive: on the pleasures of Dick’s sometimes awful prose.
Olsson’s, a small chain that was an old standby among Washington D.C. independent bookstores, is likely to file for bankruptcy. It was the stores’ ample music sections and gentrification that contributed most to its downfall. “‘The book business is getting a little soft. It’s not selling as much as it used to,’ Olsson said. ‘Our music sales went from 50 percent of our business to maybe 15. We lost a lot of revenue, and at the same time rents went up and real estate taxes went up. I don’t know what we would have done differently. It’s a killer.'”The linguistic capabilities of modern world leaders. Well done, Pope, well done.For those whose fantasies involve real estate: Private Islands for SaleAnd a pair of audio items:Nam Le’s The Boat is getting rave reviews. Here he visits The Leonard Lopate Show.Garth covered the PEN World Voices Tribute to Robert Walser. Interested readers can now listen to the entire event.
Recommended Reading: A fascinating interview from The Rumpus with Susan Shapiro. Shapiro’s newest novel, What’s Never Said, is out now from Heliotrope Books. You may also be interested in Beth Kephart‘s essay for The Millions about the utility of the outward-looking memoir and its crossover with other genres.
“He was a glutton for books who treated each text as a plate he was required to clean.” Author and critic William Gass died this week at 93, reports The Washington Post. The recipient of three National Book Critics Circle awards for criticism and four Pushcart prizes, Gass was awarded the PEN/Nabakov Award for lifetime achievement in 2000. See our reviews of Middle C, a novel that took Gass almost 20 years to finish, and his most recent essay collection Life Sentences, which amply demonstrated his background as “a former philosophy professor, but more appropriately a philosopher of the word and an esthete.” We were also lucky enough to have him pen a Year in Reading entry for us back in 2009: “I miss the leisure that let me read just for fun, not to critique, or pronounce, or even to put on a list, but simply to savor,” Gass lamented. Nonetheless, he continued,“I do, from time to time, pick up old friends who never disappoint but will promise me a page or two of pleasure between art and ordinary life.”