In January, I wrote about the release of William Styron’s letters, which reveal, among other things, that Styron requested a book on Nat Turner after visiting “the most enormous house [he’d] ever seen” in Cornwall. At the Times Literary Supplement, you can read more.
Boston has announced the country’s first “Literary Culture District,” marked by memorials to Edgar Allen Poe and Sylvia Plath. It also includes some arguably less interesting sites – the buildings that used to house The Atlantic Monthly and Little, Brown and Company, for example. Caroline O’Donovan writes critically about the new district for The Baffler and concludes that “we’ve allowed glib cultural ideals to occlude economic realities, and tourism tax dollars to triumph over a candid conversation about the origins of art and the sustainability of its production.”
Charles Yu’s new collection of stories, Sorry Please Thank You, is out today, and so is Tana French’s novel Broken Harbor. Both were on our Great Second Half of 2012 Books Preview. Leigh Stein’s new book of poems, Dispatch from the Future is also in stores today, alongside Ali Smith’s There But For The in paperback.
Writing a novel is an all-consuming project, so can you imagine not telling anyone? At The New York Times, Alice Mattison discusses keeping her novels secrets until at least the third draft. “If I talk about the book, I believe — I cannot help believing — my characters will be angry, and will no longer confide in me about their embarrassing, troubled lives.” On another side of the secrecy spectrum, Emma Straub writes about what it’s like to keep a personal secret even as her literary life was booming.
What happens when a writer inserts a ghost or monster into a story? At Berfrois, Alexander Stachniak argues that much of our current literature about the uncanny fails to help writers looking to answer this question. (Related: Steve Himmer on his monstrous Mary Poppins dreams.)