Poet and essayist Adrienne Rich passed way this afternoon at the age of 82, the LA Times confirms. Her influence on writing and activism is immeasurable, and this is a sad day of all of literature. The Poetry Foundation’s short biography of the poet is not to be missed, and nor are her poems “Final Notions,” and “For the Dead.”
It’s rare that you find someone as eclectic as William Boyd. Not only did the British writer's new play (based on two of Chekhov’s short stories) debut in London this week, his upcoming novel will star none other than James Bond. (If you're wondering, his friend Daniel Craig is not how he pictures the superspy.)
Millions staff writing appearing elsewhere: At In Character, my essay about Derrick Borte's The Joneses and the idea of the American impostor (ECW).
Some corners of the literary world were confused last week when news hit about the passing of Beatles producer George Martin, forcing Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin to make this statement: "While it is strangely moving to realize that so many people around the world care so deeply about my life and death, I have to go with Mark Twain and insist that the rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated. It was Sir George Martin, of Beatles fame, who has passed away. Not me."
Ayobami Adebayo is interviewed by Abigail Bereola for Hazlitt and it's fantastic. They discuss proverbs, romantic love, sickle cell anemia and writing your first book. "At the risk of sounding very narcissistic, I’m going to say I write for myself ultimately. And maybe my sister. I think that when I’m working, it’s very difficult for me to think about an audience, perhaps because sometimes it gets a bit overwhelming. I’m trying to figure out so many things that I really don’t start thinking about the idea that other people might read this thing until, 'Oh my God, it’s publication day' and I have a panic attack like 'Oh my God, what have I done?' I think the awareness of an audience is something I’m just coming into because this is a first book."
"My father’s life intersected with a century of conflict, horror and invention. He deciphered these histories for me, making me his scribe in a new century. My successes were his successes, and his stories thrum in every word I write. He taught me to see like a writer, to be attentive to the stories that spring up everywhere ... It’s an attentiveness to the world, to ordinary suffering, to the love that persists in its midst. My sense of the world, of history and humanity flows from this awareness — and the attendant grim humor — my father used as his guiding lamp in the darkness cast by racism and poverty." Over at The New York Times, Walter Mosley recalls the lessons taught to him by his father, Leroy.