Now that you can purchase the letters of William Styron, you can note how especially funny (and sad) it is that Darkness Visible, the author’s book-of-self-help-slash-memoir-slash-confession, sold well enough to overshadow the novels that made his name.
The correspondence of Vladimir Nabokov and the critic Edmund Wilson suffered from Wilson’s inability to appreciate Nabokov’s work. But by the spring of 1950, illness had affected both men to the point where a skilled correspondent in the ways of the U.S. mail became “a panacea to pain.”
This incredible essay from Rita Gabis at Guernica examines the bizarre intersection of dreams, truth, and murder. If that subject matter piques your interest, here are a few essays from The Millions that also touch on dreams, truth, and murder, respectively.
For The New Yorker Alex Ross describes the role Nebraska’s prairies played in Willa Cather’s writing, his encounters with Cather people, and how he became one himself. “From this roughshod Europe of the mind, Cather also emerged with a complex understanding of American identity. Her symphonic landscapes are inflected with myriad accents, cultures, personal narratives—all stored away in a prodigious memory. “
Zadie Smith’s On Beauty takes home the Orange Prize.Map of the New Yorker caption contest winners. (via emdashes)Abebooks has put together some special pages celebrating its 10th anniversary. Check out Powers of 10 – which includes the list of most expensive books ever sold on the site – and the timeline, which shows what the site looked like at its humble beginnings. (thanks Laurie.)
“I’ve been hailed as a hero (hipster poets love me), gotten the rock star reception (by research librarians), and been dismissed with derision, thought possibly to be deranged,” says Jon Danzinger. So what’s his job, you might ask? He’s a researcher for the Oxford English Dictionary.
Anthony Domestico, who studied under James Wood at Harvard, turns in a review of the critic’s latest non-fiction collection, The Fun Stuff. Aside from penning an astute review of the book, Domestico draws from his firsthand experience with Wood to pepper his write-up with details such as this: “While puzzling over a complex passage, he would vigorously rub the top of his head, as if hoping to coax interpretive brilliance from his bald spot like a genie from a lamp.” (Bonus: our own Lydia Kiesling takes a look at Wood’s latest for Bullet Media.)