Tim Parks investigates the idea of “writing to death” in the cases of Thomas Hardy, D.H. Lawrence, Anton Chekhov, Charles Dickens and William Faulkner. “So many of the writers I have looked at seem permanently torn between irreconcilable positions,” Parks writes. “Eventually, the dilemma driving the work either leads to death, or is neutralized in a way that prolongs life but dulls the writing” (Bonus: Our own Mark O’Connell just reviewed Parks’s latest book, Italian Ways.)
“Save one life save the world, instructs the Talmud… You can’t save every life. You can’t save every book. But you can at least throw lifelines now and then.” Susan Coll writes for The Atlantic about the power of shelving and the importance of staying hopeful, no matter how gloomy publishing becomes.
Clare Beams reflects on her impressions of Little Women as a child and an adult at Ploughshares. A piece of her essay: “Of course, none of the real Alcott sisters could have fit into the spaces Little Women carved out for them. No real person could…. Real-life girls are messes of contradiction.” You could also read Deena Drewis’s essay on the perception of women’s writing and gender bias in publishing.
The Swiss foundation Anne Frank Fonds is attempting to extend the copyright of Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl by crediting Anne’s father as a co-author — even though Otto Frank writes in the prologue to the first edition that the book mostly contains Anne’s words.
“Sometimes I fear that Midwestern authors are seen from a similar vantage point: that many of us are ‘fly-over writers’ to whom readers wave (or just ignore completely) as they make their way to Saul Bellow and Stuart Dybek and Marilynne Robinson. I fear that these bigger names, along with a few others (Charles Baxter, Lorrie Moore), are seen as exceptions to the general rule that little of cultural worth grows in this flat, middle stretch of the country.” On the plight of the literary Midwesterner.