An interview with Tom Bissell in which he drops this gem while talking about John Jeremiah Sullivan and Geoff Dyer: “I prefer to think of that kind of nonfiction as a voice whispering to you in the night. “
Ahead of National Poetry Month, Publishers Weekly Poetry Reviews Editor Craig Morgan Teicher asks and answers the questions many have contemplated: “What is accomplished by poetry reviews? Do they help sell books? Do they keep the art form in line? Do they spur writers into creating better poetry or kick bad writers out of the halls of Parnassus? Do poetry reviews help readers?”
At the Philadelphia Inquirer, neurologists look at cases where serious brain injury has actually brought about higher levels of creativity in artists, particularly where linguistic ability is harmed. “Language is the bully of the brain,” [one neurologist] says. “It takes up its own space and if something else gets crowded out, too bad.” (via Book Bench)
In the late 1860s, James Crichton-Browne, director of the West Riding Lunatic Asylum, gave Charles Darwin a collection of photographic portraits depicting the “afflicted and insane.” What followed was a six-year relationship in which both men corresponded about “the physical manifestations of natural selection.”
What is deracination, and why is it key to understanding American fiction? In her novel Housekeeping, Pulitzer laureate Marilynne Robinson defines it as “the free appreciation of whatever comes under one’s eye,” inspired by the Western sentiment of “feeling no tie of particularity to any single past or history.” In the Boston Review, Jess Row states that deracination is “a long-lived and nearly universal trope in white American literature,” claiming it represents “an American ideal: not to strip from the roots, but to de-race oneself.”
“The contradictions of [Madeleine] L’Engle’s life offer the best insights into the complicated acrobatics we perform in the modern world in order to satisfy the competing claims of love, family, success, and ambition….While the person that emerges could be tiresome, didactic, and just plain weird—why is everyone always breaking into a hymn at her house?—she could also be tender and offered real insights into the difficulties of growing up.” There’s a new biography of the A Wrinkle In Time author out, and The New Republic examines her life’s many complexities and, well, wrinkles.