Here’s a Rob MacDonald poem about a spelling bee contestant struggling with the word weltschmerz to get you through your Wednesday.
From Lev Grossman’s blog, “A Brief Taxonomy of Writers”: “As far as I can tell there are two kinds of fiction writers: those who read no fiction while they write, and those who constantly read fiction while they write. Let’s have cute names for them. We’ll call them Soloists and Thieves.”
Early on in her career, the poet Muriel Spark decided that Mary Shelley was criminally underrated as a writer. In bringing the Frankenstein author the fame she deserved, Spark wrote a biography, distanced Shelley from her famed poet husband and labeled her “the founder of science fiction.” (Related: our own Lydia Kiesling on Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.) (h/t Arts & Letters Daily)
Lord Byron is perhaps our most prominent example of an extravagant writer in a bygone age. There’s a reason his antics earned him a popular adjective. However, he’s not the only writer from long ago to live large, as made clear in this New Yorker piece by Elizabeth Kolbert — inspired by the release of two new biographies — that deals with the up-and-down life and reputation of Seneca. Sample quote: “Seneca’s fortune made possible a life style that was lavish by Roman or, for that matter, Hollywood standards.”
“After receiving a hundred of his letters, meeting him fifteen times, either at his apartment on Bilu Street or at a Tel Aviv café, and receiving too many calls from his cell phone to ever hope to return, I gave up trying to count the number of times that Yoram Kaniuk had died.” Nicole Krauss remembers her relationship with Israeli writer Yoram Kaniuk, author of The Last Jew, in her obituary for The New Yorker.