Your Canadian fiction fix of the day: Margaret Atwood reads Mavis Gallant.
“It is a sad irony that the snake’s rattle, which functions as a warning device, is widely regarded as a bellicose drumroll, or war-cry, instead. It may well have been in a mood of remorse for having killed a rattlesnake on impulse that [William] Bartram, vowing solemnly that he ‘would never again be accessory to the death of a rattle snake,’ painted his marvelous portrait of a coiled rattler.” Christopher Benfey on Rattlesnake Island, a sanctuary set up to protect the woodland serpents from their greatest danger — us.
The U.S. Library of Congress has named its newest poet laureate, reports The New York Times. Tracy K. Smith says, “I’m very excited about the opportunity to take what I consider to be the good news of poetry to parts of the country where literary festivals don’t always go. Poetry is something that’s relevant to everyone’s life, whether they’re habitual readers of poetry or not.” Pair with our review of Smith’s memoir Ordinary Light.
“I’ve always loved memoir, but it’s still seen as such a trashy genre and I wanted to speak to it as actual literature because that’s how it feels to me.” Mary Karr sits down with The Rumpus to discuss The Art of Memoir. We recently posted an excerpt from and a review of the book.