“The most, the best, we can do, we believe (wanting to give evidence of love), is to get out of the way, leave space around whomever or whatever it is.” This excerpt from John Cage’s journals, forthcoming as Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse), is as baffling as it is beautiful.
Over at The Atlantic, Terrence Rafferty claims that women are writing the best crime novels. “Their books are light on gunplay, heavy on emotional violence. Murder is de rigueur in the genre, so people die at the hands of others—lovers, neighbors, obsessive strangers—but the body counts tend to be on the low side,” he writes. Pair with this Millions piece on novels where women are true detectives.
“Many writers write vexed introspection, or detail-oriented reporting, or counterintuitive cultural commentary, or lifestyle journalism. But so far only Didion has done all four in perfect synthesis, a prose that, at its best, can fire on every cylinder and work on multiple fields of the imagination at once.” In support of the Kickstarter project for the documentary on Joan Didion, We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live, Nathan Heller looks back over Didion’s writing career, her “imaginatively seductive” nonfiction writing and her carefully constructed confessionalism in a piece for Vogue.
The New York Times is reporting that the poet John Ashbery has died. A major figure in American letters, Ashbery won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award in a single year for his book Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror. The full Times obituary has more.