Thanks to Stephen Elliot‘s Letters in the Mail project, LARB senior editor Matthew Specktor finds himself admiring the gorgeous handwriting of strangers, feeling tickled and gobsmacked, and reflecting on letter writing as something “beautifully useless to do.”
Out this week: The Unwomanly Face of War by Svetlana Alexievich; Madame Zero by Sarah Hall; Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips; Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed; and Careers for Women by Joanna Scott. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
Our friends at More Intelligent Life tot up the most common titles found on New York’s street-corner book stalls.
April Bernard is not a fan of Writers’ Houses because she does not believe the “private life, even of the dead, is ours to plunder.” Earlier this year, our own Luke Epplin also noted some of the limitations of Writers’ Houses.
Michael Cunningham, who alongside Maureen Corrigan and Susan Larson sat on the jury of the Pulitzer Prize for for fiction, gives the clearest account yet of how the award process works and defends the three shortlisted titles. His letter is in two parts, he also addresses the function of judgment and begins to build a poetics of literary greatness.