As Kevin Jackson notes in Prospect Magazine, Edgar Allan Poe differs from many of his contemporary American authors in that he’s often treated with “a hint of condescension and a splash of pity somewhere in the mix” by modern English students. And yet his influence perseveres. He is, after all, the only author with an NFL namesake. And he’s apparently huge in France. So what gives?
"His life's work, and his stunning prose, teaches us to better understand political influence, American democracy, and the true power of biography." The National Book Foundation just announced Robert Caro as this year's recipient of the National Book Awards lifetime achievement medal. Definitely pair with this piece by our own Michael Bourne on Caro's epic literary ambitions.
Open Letter Books director Chad Post teamed up with Green Apple Books buyer Stephen Sparks to make a list of their twenty favorite books in translation. Among their selections is László Krasznahorkai’s Satantango, which Adam Levy reviewed for us last year, and which Post and Sparks describe as “a diabolical, haunting deconstruction of apocalyptic messianism.”
Looking for a new literary podcast to fill your downtime? David Naimon’s “Between the Covers” author interview series may do the trick. The series, which appears regularly on Portland, Oregon’s KBOO 90.7 FM, is available for free on iTunes. Past guests have included Karen Russell, George Saunders, China Miéville and Junot Díaz. Forthcoming episodes will feature the likes of NoViolet Bulawayo and Jami Attenberg.
Let the Great World Spin author (and one of today's YiR2011 writers!) Colum McCann had some inspiring words for this year's crop of Boston College freshmen. "There’s a degraded discourse around the notion of optimism these days that says there is something soft about being an optimist—something wrong," he said. "It claims that optimism has no edge, as if it’s less than complete, less than the full deck of knowledge. The optimist is cartooned into the corner with an idiotic grin. I submit to you that none of that is true."