Mary Ruefle, author of the forthcoming Madness, Rack, and Honey, wrote a poetic essay on the subject of fear. It’s chock full of lines like this one about why she likes the word dread more than the word fear: “because fear, like the unconscious emotion which is one of its forms, has only the word ear inside of it, telling an animal to listen, while dread has the word read inside of it, telling us to read carefully and find the dead, who are also there.”
“It is a superstitious business—childish, really—the marking, or even the noticing, of anniversaries like these. Such fastening pretends that one day can be like another, pretends that every day is not, ultimately, only its own day, the only version of itself that will ever come. But ‘Daddy’ is itself a poem built on a bedrock of anniversaries.” At The Paris Review Daily, Belinda McKeon marks the birthday of an oft-revered poem.
Out today are Me and the Devil by Nick Tosches; Raised from the Ground by Jose Saramago; Climates, a newly translated novel from 1928 by French writer Andre Maurois; Spilt Milk by Brazilian writer Chico Buarque; and Alan Light’s The Holy or the Broken about a Leonard Cohen song that Jeff Buckley made famous.
This year, the good folks at Slate and the Whiting Foundation kicked off a new literary prize, intended to reward authors for great second novels. To wrap up the year, they’ve asked several winners of the prize, including Akhil Sharma, Helen DeWitt and Daniel Alarcon, to write short pieces about objects that symbolize the writing process for their books. (Akhil Sharma chooses a stopwatch, while Eileen Myles chooses a can of Cafe Bustelo.)
“Perhaps it’s a sign that our literary culture is not quite so ailing that Smith managed to make a space for NW, to clear a third path, one that meanders through Willesden, through time, and through the mind.” Our own Emily M. Keeler on realism and Zadie Smith.