New this week: Tupelo Hassman’s debut Girlchild, a pair of novels — Angel and A Game of Hide and Seek — by Elizabeth Taylor (not the actress) from NYRB Classics featuring introductions by Hilary Mantel and Caleb Crain, Self-Portrait of an Other, prose poems by Cees Nooteboom, and Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys, a new poetry collection from D.A. Powell.
Former nytimes.com design director Khoi Vinh tries to renew his digital subscription to the paper, and it doesn't go well: "The total customer experience here is haphazard at best, and, at worst — I hate to say this because I am still friendly with many people at the company, but in truth there’s no way around it — it’s insulting."
"Why on earth would you start a literary magazine?" In an essay for The New Yorker Stephen Burt offers a wide variety of answers, from promoting a new genre to promoting one's friends. His article pairs well with our own Nick Ripatrazone's lit mag question and answer: "What is the wider cultural influence of literary magazines? I am not sure there needs to be one."
Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch performed a haunting interpretation of “Ode to a Nightingale” by John Keats, and the actor has also recently signed on to play Hamlet on the London stage in autumn 2014. This raises the question: is Cumberbatch the British James Franco?
The U.S. Library of Congress has named its newest poet laureate, reports The New York Times. Tracy K. Smith says, “I’m very excited about the opportunity to take what I consider to be the good news of poetry to parts of the country where literary festivals don’t always go. Poetry is something that’s relevant to everyone’s life, whether they’re habitual readers of poetry or not.” Pair with our review of Smith's memoir Ordinary Light.