“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.
The debut issue of Candor magazine is like a Sassy for the intellectual set, rife with wit (Emily Gould and Merisa Meltzer discuss Away We Go), intelligence (writer mother Rachel Zucker and woman writer Sarah Manguso speak candidly about identity, motherhood, women’s prejudices and writing), and women’s rights (Atossa Abrahamian considers the rhetoric of the rape victim).
Nonfiction writing might work wonders for history books, but the heart of the genre is still the essay. In a piece for The Morning News Martin Connelly discusses his youthful resolution to be an essayist, which he quickly forgot and then gradually remembered. There are also ironic license plates, convicts and a baby, just to jazz everything up a little bit.
Edward St. Aubyn’s Patrick Melrose series will be adapted into a five-part Showtime series starring Benedict Cumberbatch. A few years back on our site, Ben Hamilton wrote, “the pleasures of reading Edward St Aubyn’s Melrose novels can feel strangely illicit.”
“Aspiring journalists tend to worship at the altar of Joan Didion,” writes Heather Havrilesky (who some of you may know as Polly) in the latest issue of Bookforum. The fact that so many writers look up to Didion as an example necessitates that the lit world find at least one offbeat alternative. In Havrilesky’s eyes, that alternative is obvious: the late Nora Ephron was the anti-Didion, she argues.
From Nebuchadnezzar to Hippocrates to the Victorian asylum: The Paris Review takes a look at mental illness and its treatments across the centuries.
“I don’t think writing the truth makes you strong by default. I think it makes you vulnerable, which in turn can make you strong.” Amy Jo Burns writes for Ploughshares about the difficulties of “Writing About Other People” and the upcoming publication of her debut memoir, Cinderland.
Starting today and lasting until the end of the summer, The New Yorker is completely free online, including archives back to 2007. What to read? To start off, try searching the fiction page for, say, George Saunders. There’s that famous Lawrence Wright piece on Scientology. Or feel free to consult the magazine’s own roundup. But I happen to be most impressed by this grandaddy of all longform articles on six survivors of Hiroshima (subscription required).