There was a time, believe it or not, when poets made appearances on widely-seen American talk shows. That time was the fifties and sixties, when Carl Sandburg appeared on The Today Show, The Ed Sullivan Show and Edward R. Murrow’s See It Now. (He also gave a speech before Congress and competed on What’s My Line?)
“Four years after first announcing the decision to open the prize to Americans, the Booker is virtually indistinguishable from its competitors. It is exactly what many feared it would become: corporate and daft.” Alex Shephard writing for The New Republic about why the Man Booker Prize isn't interesting anymore. Still, should you want to know who's shortlisted this year, here's our roundup.
In case you missed it: JK Rowling just released a new Harry Potter short story on her own promotional website. Before you get too excited: the New Republic is less than sanguine, calling it "a marketing scam." (Code for: not very good writing?) Which is not going to keep me from reading it anyway. Readers with more restraint might note that "You don’t have to be a Barthesian grad student to chafe at Rowling’s impulse to clarify the words on the page." (Pair with our discussion of fan fiction and the afterlife of literature.)
In August of 1911, Franz Kafka and his future literary executor Max Brod paid a visit to the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa. It was, all told, a weird time to make such a trip, because a week before the two arrived in Paris, crafty thieves abducted the famous painting. So why did they go if there wasn't a painting to see? To look at the absence, of course. (h/t Arts and Letters Daily)