As you may have heard, this year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the passing of Sylvia Plath. It also, not coincidentally, marks the release of two new biographies: American Isis (the first to draw material from the recently-opened Ted Hughes archive) and Mad Girl’s Love Song (which looks at the poet’s relationship with her “big, dark, hunky boy”). Emma Garman weighs the impact of all this new scholarship at Salon.
“The gross-out factor of the last section stuck with me, but not in a way I enjoyed.” Writing workshop critiques as applied to your sex life.
Stephen King, Haruki Murakami, Chris Adrian, James Frey, and Peter Nádas are all in the running for the 19th annual Bad Sex Award. The award will be presented by the UK’s Literary Review on December 6th. Last year’s prize(?) went to Rowan Somerville for his work(?) in The Shape of Her. If you’d like to read snippets of the sex scenes in question, check out the publication’s Twitter feed.
It’s rare that a writer decides his new novel will be his last, but that’s exactly what Michael Faber has done with regards to his latest, which comes out this week. In the Times, he talks with Alexandra Alter about his decision, saying: “I felt that I had one more book in me that could be special and sincere and extraordinary, and that that would be enough.” It’s probably a good time to read our own Bill Morris on the history of literary retirements.
Over at Threepenny Review, Jess Row expounds on “blandness” in the work of Haruki Murakami, and particularly in his 2.8 lb. tome 1Q84—a book tabbed by Charles Baxter in last year’s Year in Reading as the best he’d read all year. Row contemplates the way Murakami’s characters and sentences “almost never lose this placid, observant neutrality,” or “continuous monotone.”