Tom Wolfe has a chance to defend (er, ward off?) his 2004 “Bad Sex Award” following Literary Review‘s decision to nominate him for this year’s top honors (er, dishonors?). The UK publication has tapped Back to Blood and seven others for this year’s shortlist — and, despite popular demand, they managed to spare J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy. For some revealing passages from Wolfe’s book, check out my review.
“In my adolescence people spoke of ‘café intellectuals,’ not with the respect due to a sect that transmits ideas within the cramped space of a table but with the contempt reserved for those who turn their backs on reality and take refuge in vain speculation.” Juan Villoro on the writing life in Mexico City’s cafés as part of the “Writing Life Around the World” series for Electric Literature.
Are you on Pinterest? If so, you may be interested in Alice Northover’s round-up of university presses and university libraries that use the site.
Pietru Caxaro composed “Il Cantilena” in the late 15th century, and his poem is widely considered to be the oldest known literary text in the Maltese language. Recently conservator Theresa Zammit Lupi worked to restore the original manuscript’s paper, binding and cover in order to “bring new life” to the historic work. You can read an approximate English translation of the poem courtesy of Wikipedia.
The British critic, essayist, and novelist John Berger died yesterday at his home in France, reports The New York Times. Probably best known for his book of art-criticism-as-philosophy Ways of Seeing, which was turned into a popular BBC series and sold more than a million copies, Berger also won the Booker prize for G. in 1972 and was nominated again in 2008 for an epistolary novel, From A to X. The Guardian has rounded up some of his quotes, including the apt-feeling “[h]ope is not a form of guarantee; it’s a form of energy, and very frequently that energy is strongest in circumstances that are very dark.”
Try to define the word “poetry” and you’ll quickly find yourself in a maze of contradictions. It refers, most obviously, to printed verse, but it can also refer to especially lyrical prose, among other things. At The Paris Review Daily, Damian Searls uses etymology to get some answers. Related: Kate Angus on loving poetry but not poetry books.