"By now, you are probably asking yourself, Did these two ever talk about anything serious? Of course, we did. We talked about how writing a poem is no different from taking out a frying pan and concocting a dish out of the ingredients available in the house, how in poetry, as in cooking, it’s all a matter of subtle little touches that come from long experience or are the result of sudden inspiration." Charles Simic writes movingly about his friend, the late poet Mark Strand, and their various schemes, from buying palazzos to founding a gastronomic poetry movement, for The New York Review of Books.
In response to the Bookends question, "What is the Best Portrayal of a Marriage in Literature?," Year in Reading alum Leslie Jamison writes movingly about the poetry of Jack Gilbert and concludes that "this is marriage: not knowing one’s wife but constantly relearning her, not possessing her but rediscovering her, constantly finding a new beloved within the already familiar spouse." For a slightly different perspective on marriage in literature, look no further than our own Matt Seidel's "Survey of Literature's Non-Traditional Marriage Proposals."
The big debut this week is Imperial Bedrooms by Bret Easton Ellis. Also of interest is a new collection of essays by Sloane Crosley, How Did You Get This Number. The much delayed U.S. edition of a controversial 2009 Booker longlister, Ed O'Loughlin's Not Untrue and Not Unkind, is now out. As is this intriguing curiosity: Peacock and the Buffalo: The Poetry of Nietzsche, which purports to be the "first complete English translation of Nietzsche's poetry."
In Karen Russell's Swamplandia!, there is an enchanting place known as the abandoned Library Boat. "It held a cargo of books," Ava Bigtree explains, "In the thirties and forties, Harrel M. Crow, a fisherman and bibliophile, had piloted the schooner around our part of the swamp delivering books to the scattered islanders. Then Harrel M. Crow died and I guess that was it for the door-to-door service. But his Library Boat, miraculously, had survived on the rocky island, unscavenged, undestroyed by hurricanes. It was an open secret, utilized by all our neighbors." Now something similar has moored in England's canals. And, across the Atlantic, one New Yorker is keeping his own open secret.