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.”
“A lot of writers are big readers. Very often, when you’re writing your day’s work, something you write will remind you of something that you read. And the thing that you read shines a kind of light on the sentences that you’re writing. So I think it would be very hard to write without having read a great deal.” Listen to Salman Rushdie chat with Paul Holdengraber about poetry, film, and his latest project. Liam Hoare writes on the implications of Rushdie’s fatwa.
By the age of twenty-one, Eugene O’Neill had dropped out of Princeton, fathered a child and caught syphilis on a trip through South America. He was, in his own words, “the Irish luck kid,” blessed in a strange way with misfortune. Yet he went on to win a Pulitzer eleven years later. How did he do it? In the LRB, John Lahr reads a new biography of the playwright.
“Stop smoking, first of all, and then don’t hold your breath, don’t cough, do not for any reason pick up heavy packages, boxes, suitcases. Never lean over, or dive headfirst into water. The carnal throes of passion were forbidden, because even an ardent kiss could cause my veins to burst.” At long last, Lina Meruane’s semi-autobiographical novel Seeing Red has been published in English. Meruane has long been hailed as one of the most brilliant South American writers that American readers had probably never heard of.
“Maybe in the future I’ll feel compelled to write that kind of specific and current book, but right now I feel that my strength as a fiction writer is my ability to take a step back. I prefer to create a more metaphorical story that people can apply to a variety of situations, personal and political.” Electric Literature interviews Kazuo Ishiguro about his most recent novel, The Buried Giant, which our own Lydia Kiesling reviewed here.
David Orr investigates the day jobs of some modern poets, and notes “the university job is a relatively recent development in Anglo-American poetry.” Indeed, as this playful illustration from Incidental Comics makes clear, poets have engaged in a wide array of salaried jobs – from pediatricians to bank clerks to diplomats. Previously, we took a look at writers and their day jobs, too.