“These are terrific diversions, but their status next to the book is a little ambiguous. Isn’t using animation to advertise a book a little like using sculpture to promote poetry?” asks Lindesay Irvine in this article about book trailers in The Guardian. If you’re looking for a diversion, this video short based on César Aira‘s Ghosts is certainly worth watching.
Helen Vendler is one of those rare scholar-writers who doesn’t adhere to a particular school of theory. In her new book of essays, she explains her view of criticism as distinct from both philosophy and scholarship, as a form of learning that’s inherently “unsystematic and idiosyncratic.” In Open Letters Monthly, Jack Hanson reads through the book. You could also read Jonathan Farmer on Rita Dove’s letter to Vendler.
We lost another great one this week in Alan Rickman. He will be remembered forever by fans of the Harry Potter series as the maybe-evil, maybe-heroic professor Severus Snape, but the Potter series wasn’t Rickman’s only brush with the literary. Here are a few recordings of him reading from Shakespeare, Proust, and Thomas Hardy.
Lots of new books out this week: Where Mortals Sleep, previously unpublished short fiction by Kurt Vonnegut, with a foreword by Dave Eggers; A Life, one of what will be several biographies of J.D. Salinger arriving over the next couple of years; Stanley Fish tells us How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One; Brian Greene introduced the masses to string theory with The Elegant Universe, and now he’s back with The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos; Julie Orringer’s The Invisible Bridge is out in paperback; and finally, from Penguin Classics, The Penguin Book of Victorian Women in Crime: Forgotten Cops and Private Eyes from the Time of Sherlock Holmes.
“Perhaps this is why King favors prose—many of his novels and stories confront terror so enormous it transcends poetic language.” In Poetry Foundation, an essay about Stephen King‘s little known literary habit: writing poetry. Pair with: our editor Lydia Kiesling on discovering America through King’s novels.