Jack Gilbert died yesterday at the age of 87. Gilbert was the author of five standalone poetry collections—as well as additional collected volumes such as last March’s Collected Poems—and he was also a past winner of a National Book Critics Circle Award. For The LA Times, John Penner reviews the poet’s legacy. Or, perhaps as fitting tribute to Gilbert’s life and work, better to hear his own final lines to the poem “Failing and Flying”: “I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell, / but just coming to the end of his triumph.”
In Johns Hopkins Magazine, a remembrance of the Languages of Criticism and Sciences of Man Symposium, which brought together Jacques Lacan, Roland Barthes and Jacques Derrida, among others. About Derrida, Professor Richard Macksey (whose library you may have seen) recalls: “I’m not sure we were clear about where this guy was going.”
Last Thursday’s Goodreads event hosted by Patrick and featuring Emily Mandel and attended by myself and several other Millions writers and alums got written up in the Wall Street Journal. I’m told that there is a photo of yours truly in the print version, but a hard copy of the WSJ is hard to come by here in the woods. Also, Clancy Martin likes The Millions and some other great sites!
“‘There is almost no work, within the vast range of literature and science,’ [Thomas Jefferson] wrote in an 1874 report, ‘which may not at some time prove useful to the legislature of a great nation.’ Thus the Library Of Congress’s mandate expanded: it would acquire anything and everything of importance … By the late 19th century, the LOC had become a kind of national brain trust, a heritage of information that aspired to timelessness.” This piece on the Library of Congress and its internet progress (or lack thereof) is fascinating and thorough. Go and spend some time with the digital archive, there are only around seven million gigabytes of information for you to thumb through.
Despite what we might think, smartphones aren’t destroying good reading habits. Rather, smartphones are enabling access to books in developing countries, according to a new study. They allow readers to find books in remote parts of the world without libraries and at a cheaper price.
“Writing difference is a challenge, particularly in fiction. How do men write women and vice versa? How do writers of one race or ethnicity write about people of another race or ethnicity? More important, how do writers tackle difference without reducing their characters to caricatures or stereotypes?” Roxane Gay reviews Joyce Carol Oates‘s The Sacrifice and simultaneously explains how to write difference well. Hint: it “demands empathy, an ability to respect the humanity of those you mean to represent.”