Mark Dimunation was on the committee that selected the 88 books for the Library of Congress’s current “Books That Shaped America” exhibit. Recently he did an interview with NPR‘s Lynn Neary in which he explained how he arrived at his decisions to include such works as Goodnight Moon, The Joy Of Cooking, and Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
In the wake of Jonathan Franzen‘s much discussed New Yorker essay on Edith Wharton, Laura Miller defends readers who look to an author’s life to aid their understanding of a given work: ” Byron’s clubfoot, Flannery O’Connor’s lupus, Coleridge’s opium addiction and whatever was wrong with Hemingway do interest many readers because these factors shaped the life experiences from which the great work sprang.”
“Her poems shimmer most when they reflect on the yearning to rebel against the constrained space granted to women’s voices in literature and life.” On her 126th birthday, The Guardian argues that Edna St. Vincent Millay‘s poetry — not her reputation — should be remembered and celebrated. Pair with: an essay on being an uneasy, untamed women writer.
Does being a writer make you a bad father? Matthew Norman ponders his fear at Salon. “As a fiction writer, I’m perpetually in some state of preoccupation. At any given moment, I’m suffering over people who don’t exist—who will never exist.” Maybe he should try Polly Rosenwaike’s tactic and read fiction about the opposite parent.
“Dear Mrs D, Thanks for your homework. Your idea of writing a Christmas ghost story was a good one, but it’s not really the kind of thing I tend to do — it’s a little bit too genre for my tastes. Try Kevin, who sits next to me. He loves that stuff.” Over at McSweeney’s, Nick Hornby advises his son on excuses for failing to hand in his English homework, excuses which Hornby learned are acceptable during a thirty-year career in journalism, books, and film.
“She was to me and so many poets an exemplary and inimitable figure. And I mean to emphasize the tension between ‘exemplary’ and ‘inimitable’—what her example taught us was the necessity of going our own way, of being one with others.” Ben Lerner remembers C.D. Wright, who passed away earlier this week.