Writing for Full Stop, Robert Fay asks, “If Mr. [T.S.] Eliot had to have a day job, why is it that writers and poets today are so cagey about what they do to pay the bills?” Previously, two of our staff writers have explored similar aspects of the same question. In 2009, Emily St. John Mandel wrote of the “constant struggle” that arises from “striking a balance between writing literary fiction and paying the rent.” And last year, Edan Lepucki looked at the perils of including “non-writing jobs” in one’s author bio.
What does it mean to be cool? According to scholar Joel Dinerstein, it means a person who conveys “relaxed intensity.” Using this definition, Dinerstein and Frank Goodyear III curated a photography exhibition of “American Cool” at National Portrait Gallery. The portraits feature everyone from Joan Didion to David Byrne.
“We are not trying to point fingers or prosecute. I am just trying to solve the last case of my career. There is no statute of limitation on the truth.” A retired FBI agent has launched a cold case review into identifying those who may have betrayed Anne Frank‘s hiding place to the Gestapo in 1944, reports The Guardian.
“How could we possibly trust any creature that comes into the world wearing such a caul of ambiguity? That’s “essayists.” Four hundred and four years later, they continue to flourish.” John Jeremiah Sullivan offers a loose history of the essay, essayists, and all their many contradictions in a piece for The New Yorker.
Though no big name today, early 20th-century poet Florence Ripley Mastin published prolifically in her lifetime – a dozen times in Poetry, more than 90 in the New York Times. Poetry’s Ruth Graham argues that the successes of Mastin, an untrained amateur, say more about her times than her talent. These days, amateur poets today benefit from refrigerator poetry sets, numerous poetry apps and sites, and the infinite community of the internet, but the Times has long excised poetry from its pages. In the archives, Patrick Wensink meets and analyzes those who doggedly pursue poetry these faded days.
A lot of women feel a connection to Cheryl Strayed, but one reader’s connection was personal. Strayed’s lost half-sister found her when she just happened to check out Wild because she liked travel narratives. “She didn’t know anything about me except when she read the description in my book of my early life, my mother and my father, she knew that father was hers, too. I don’t name my father in the book but she recognized him,” Strayed told NPR.
A very big week for new books: See Now Then by Jamaica Kincaid; My Brother’s Book, the last book completed by Maurice Sendak before his death in May 2012; How Literature Saved My Life by David Shields; The City of Devi by Manil Suri; a new edition of Breakfast at Tiffany’s & Other Voices, Other Rooms by Truman Capote; The Love Song of Jonny Valentine by Teddy Wayne (see our interview today); P. G. Wodehouse: A Life in Letters; Wise Men by Stuart Nadler; debut novels Autobiography of Us by Aria Beth Sloss and Frances and Bernard by Carlene Bauer; City of Angels, an autobiographical novel by Christa Wolf; and House of Earth, the lost novel of Woody Guthrie.