“These were not like other poems: within their consistent 16-line armature they were turbulent, mad, feverish, cryptic, an unruly union of boppy jive-talk, and thorny quasi-Elizabethan diction. It was impossible to tell who was speaking, or to whom; poems ended in mid-syllable, bristled with random phrases in foreign languages, sported menacing-looking accent marks and Shakespearean contractions, were riddled with ampersands and ellipses.” At The Rumpus, a memory of falling in love with The Dream Songs (which happens to nicely complement a piece we published back in April).
Kirk Curnutt takes readers on a tour of of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s oft-neglected commercial short fiction. Fitzgerald, after all, “produced 160 short stories [in his life],” writes Curnutt, “earning a total of $241,453 off the genre — more than $3 million in today’s dollars.” Yet the author didn’t think highly of the work, and even referred to himself as an “old whore” because he wouldn’t quit.
Charlaine Harris, author of the Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampire Mysteries (recently reincarnated as HBO’s True Blood), talks with Barbara Peters of the Poisoned Pen Press and Bookstore for her interview series “The Criminal Calendar.” See the first of six YouTube installments here. Harris, like her most famous heroine, offers a mix of canny intuition and folksy charm. Asked about the bisexuality of one very old vampire in “the Sookie-verse” she answers Peters, “I figure if you live that long, you might as well diversify. Wouldn’t you get bored, you would think–you’d be willing to try anything if you live that long.”
Novelist and blogger M.J. Rose thinks authors’ personal marketing efforts should be more substantially rewarded; Robert Miller, president and publisher of HarperStudio, responds with a proposal to restructure the author-publisher relationship into 50-50 profit-sharing, as HarperStudio has done.
We’ve heard about the weak dollar making things tough on Canadian readers, but the pain is being felt by Canadian publishers as well, as profit margins diminish. The latest casualty is publisher Raincoast Books.Philip Agee died today. His Inside the Company in 1973 may have created a modern day genre, one that would be contributed to by many former agents, the CIA tell-all.The Atlantic reaches deep into the archives to bring us “The History of Children’s Books,” from 1888:It is hard to imagine a world without books for children. There have been children’s stories and folk-tales ever since man first learned to speak. “Many of them,” in Thackeray’s words, “have been narrated, almost in their present shape, for thousands of years since, to little copper-colored Sanscrit children. The very same tale has been heard by the Northmen Vikings, as they lay on their shields on deck; and by the Arabs, couched under the stars in the Syrian plains, when the flocks were gathered in, and the mares were picketed by the tents.” Children’s books, however, are a late growth of literature. Miss Yonge says, “Up to the Georgian era there were no books at all for children or the poor, excepting the class-books containing old ballads, such as Chevy Chase, and short tales, such as The King and the Cobbler, Whittington and his Cat.” We shall nevertheless see that there were English books for children (and it is with no others that we have to deal) long before this time.
We lost another great one this week in Alan Rickman. He will be remembered forever by fans of the Harry Potter series as the maybe-evil, maybe-heroic professor Severus Snape, but the Potter series wasn’t Rickman’s only brush with the literary. Here are a few recordings of him reading from Shakespeare, Proust, and Thomas Hardy.
Errol Flynn was unique. Quick with a quip, the Australian-born silver screen swashbuckler (and current Tumblr heartthrob) had such immortal lines as, “I like my whiskey old and my women young.” Fans have long been drawn to the actor’s incredibly interesting life—much of which was relayed in his posthumously published autobiography My Wicked, Wicked Ways—so the Cuban National Archive’s uncovering of previously lost footage from his film Cuban Story should excite many of them.
“Their reporting led to Mr. Weinstein’s firing and set off a national conversation about the prevalence of sexual assault and harassment.” New York Times reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey will publish a book with Penguin Press about the recent sexual abuse and harassment allegations that have rocked the country. From our archives: Hannah Gersen‘s essay about seeing and hearing women in film.