What do Talking Heads, The Smiths, Judas Priest, and Blondie have in common? They’re all featured in the playlist Picador made to accompany the paperback release of Jeffrey Eugenides’s latest novel, The Marriage Plot. The Spotify list is chock full of songs “Madeleine, Leonard, and Mitchell might have been listening to in the early 1980s.” You can read Eugenides’s take on the book’s genesis over here, too.
“I wish all this telling women alcohol is dangerous was a manifestation of a country that loves babies so much it’s all over lead contamination from New Orleans to Baltimore to Flint and the lousy nitrate-contaminated water of Iowa and carcinogenic pesticides and the links between sugary junk food and juvenile diabetes and the need for universal access to healthcare and daycare and good and adequate food. You know it’s not. It’s just about hating on women. Hating on women requires narratives that make men vanish and make women magicians producing babies out of thin air and dissolute habits.” Rebecca Solnit on the passive voice, mysterious pregnancies, disappearing men, and the Center for Disease Control. Pair with this Millions review of Solnit’s book The Faraway Nearby.
For the most part, your average writer’s retreat is a pretty cushy place. Its amenities are designed to let its guests turn their energies to the difficulties of artistic work. At The Paris Review Daily, Rex Weiner writes a dispatch from a different sort of retreat — a haunted house for writers in Mexico. To read about a more traditional experience, check out our own Michael Bourne on his time at Bread Loaf.
With past contributions by Joyce Carol Oates, Yusef Komunyakaa and Dana Goodyear, The Rattling Wall (which gets funding from PEN Center USA) appears to have no problem attracting prominent writers. For a limited time, get a three-year subscription at a discount of close to fifty percent.
One Siberian city is offering free subway rides to passengers who can recite “at least two verses from any poem by Alexander Pushkin.” The obvious corollary would be NJ Transit providing free service to passengers capable of singing “Born to Run” in its entirety.