“Poe’s verses illustrate an intense faculty for technical and abstract beauty, with the rhyming art to excess, an incorrigible propensity toward nocturnal themes, a demoniac undertone behind every page—and, by final judgment, probably belong among the electric lights of imaginative literature, brilliant and dazzling, but with no heat.” – Walt Whitman on Edgar Allan Poe’s significance, circa 1880.
In anticipation of Adam Sternbergh’s novel, Shovel Ready, Chris Bilton and Sarah Liss collaborated on “the ultimate N.Y.C. dystopia map,” which serves as an amalgamation of “some of the darkest visions of the city.” Meanwhile, Jacob Silverman points us to a map of St. Petersburg, Russia, “made out of lines from Russian literature.” (Bonus: Sternbergh discusses his novel with the Los Angeles Times.)
In 1932, several black Americans – including Langston Hughes – traveled to the Soviet Union to shoot a propaganda film about the “evils of racism in the United States.” One of those travelers, Lloyd Patterson, would never return. Instead, Patterson married an Ukrainian woman, and the pair had two children. The firstborn, Jim Patterson, was at one time the most famous black resident of the USSR – and his appearance in The Circus even drew the admiration of Joseph Stalin. After World War II, Patterson served as a Soviet naval officer aboard a submarine in the Black Sea. From there he went on to the Soviet Writers Union in 1967. If you think this sounds far-fetched, I encourage you to read more here.
Over at Guernica, Liza St. James interviews Adam Z. Levy and Ashley Nelson Levy, the founders of the independent press Transit Books. As they put it, “We were noticing this kind of partition between two types of readerships: those who read domestic literature and those who read translation. […] We were interested in the separation of those literary spheres, and began to wonder how to bridge the gap between them.”