“We all use a ‘persona’ or mask, to some degree, all the time,” writes poet Robert Pinsky as he challenges the notion—widely held in English classes throughout the world—that a poem’s “speaker” is necessarily separate from a poem’s author. The latest release from Pinsky, the former Poet Laureate of the United States, is Selected Poems, and you can hear him read some excerpts in this video.
In the latest issue of The Boston Review, Elaine Scarry reviews Steven Pinker's The Better Angels of Our Nature. Pinker argues that literature, by bolstering man's empathy, has lead to huge reductions in worldwide violence, a thesis that sounds dangerously close to the absurd pop-science of Jonathan Gottschall’s The Storytelling Animal.
Recommended Reading: A piece of new fiction by Joanthan Safran Foer! Go check out "Maybe It Was the Distance" over at The New Yorker. Here's a review of Foer's Tree of Codes by Kevin Nguyen for The Millions which calls the format of the book, "a wonderful experiment in what a book can be, and also home to a mediocre novel."
You might never be able to finish Proust's Remembrance of Things Past, but you can stay in his hotel. France is marketing its literary heritage with hotels named after famous authors. At the aforementioned Marcel, guests can stay in rooms named after Proust characters. If you aren't a fan of madeleines, you can check into the R Kipling or Le Pavillon des Lettres.
There's been a lot of discussion about self-publishing books, but what about crowdfunding? Online publisher Unbound is proving it could work and has already raised over £1 million and funded 54 books. The model itself couldn't really be any simpler - "the author pitches an idea and if enough readers support it, the book goes ahead. Once it has been printed, the book’s net profits are then split 50/50."
Sean Manning of the Talking Covers blog spoke with a bunch of authors, editors and artists to take a long, close look at the work of Lorraine Louie, the designer “who came up with the uniform, De Stijl layout” of the inimitable Vintage Contemporaries. And while on the topic of book covers, check out Tammy Fortin’s “New Covers for Old Classics” series she put together for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.