“Eleven years later, the Atlantic Monthly editor, Thomas Wentworth Higginson, made a similar request to an obscure, retiring poet named Emily Dickinson who had written a letter asking if her verses ‘breathed.’ Her response was much like Melville’s, if typically elliptical: ‘Could you believe me—without? I had no portrait, now, but am small, like the Wren, and my Hair is bold, like the Chestnut Bur—and my eyes, like the Sherry in the Glass, that the Guest leaves—Would this do just as well?'” The age-old problem: how writers deal with publicity.
J.L. Galache wanted to honor the recently deceased Iain Banks in a way befitting the man’s memory. So of course he named an asteroid after the author. With the help of Dr. Gareth Williams of the Minor Planet Center, Galache successfully lobbied the Committee for Small Body Nomencalture of the International Astronomical Union for Asteroid 5099 to be officially dubbed Iainbanks. (Bonus: John McIntyre honors Banks’s memory by reading through some of his best work.)
I have an essay in the September issue of Poets & Writers on “The Social Value of MFA Programs.” Sadly, P&W deems the piece too valuable to give away for free on the Web, so if you want to read it, you’ll have to go to your local newsstand and buy a copy.
Thomas Pynchon defined what he termed “vintage Barthelmismo” as “fictions thoughtfully concocted and comfortably beyond the reach of time.” This moving tribute to Donald Barthelme by Padgett Powell from the forthcoming anthology, A Manner of Being: Writers on Their Mentors, is right in line with Pynchon’s sentiment. Here’s another Barthelme mention from The Millions that you may be interested in.
“It was astonishing. Utterly astonishing. Everyone of them seemed . . . entranced by him.” Sometimes older books get a second life given contemporary contexts; such is the case with Sinclair Lewis‘s 1935 It Can’t Happen Here, reports Time. The book, which was written as Hitler came to power, has sold out online. See also this New Yorker piece about a recent stage adaptation of Lewis’s semi-satirical novel.
“I think people always expect artists to have a larger understanding of the issues they write about. People have looked to writers and artists forever and asked them to be cultural commentators or political commentators, which can be very scary because I can only speak to my own perspective, and I’m figuring this out along with everybody else. I’m not even sure I’m the best person to talk about it, whatever it is, but I’m someone who can and does.” Electric Literature talks with Sarah Gerard about her debut novel Binary Star, which we reviewed here.