“If I’ve sat on my arse all day—and it’s definitely my English arse I sit on, not an American ass—then what I most want to do come evening is sit on it some more,” Geoff Dyer loves to sit. He and other authors discussed why the standing desk is overrated at The New Republic. Here’s where our writers work.
New this week are Anita Desai’s The Artist of Disappearance and P.D. James’ Pride and Prejudice sequel Death Comes to Pemberly. Joseph Gordon-Levitt hangs up his acting duds to put out The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories: Volume 1, and, speaking of tiny stories, there’s Lou Beach’s 420 Characters: “these crystalline miniature stories began as Facebook status updates.” On the nonfiction side, there’s Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil by Tom Mueller.
On the occasion of the publication of his novel The Madonnas of Echo Park, Brando Skyhorse writes about the decades-long path that got him there and the rules for writing that he devised. (Thanks, Steve)
You’ve probably taken one of those quizzes that lets you find out the nature of your spirit animal. If so, you’ll enjoy this novel take on the form, which lets you see which animal from a famous poem you are. (For the record, this writer got Marianne Moore’s immortal fish.)
Recommended Reading: The New York Times’s feature on Dana Spiotta. “When Dana Spiotta was working on her fourth novel, Innocents and Others, she sat beneath a huge bulletin board pinned with her sticky notes and research materials: lists of relevant words (passion, transformation, intimacy) and ‘seeing’ devices (zoetrope, stereoscope, camera obscura), and photographs of Orson Welles, Jean-Luc Godard and the Maysles brothers. ‘It’s like walking into the book,’ Spiotta told me. ‘You feel it all around you.’” To prepare for her upcoming release, revisit our review of Stone Arabia.
This past Wednesday Tracy K. Smith officially began her term as the new U.S. Poet Laureate. After adding her name to the guest book traditionally signed by poet laureates upon the start of their one year term, she read aloud from previously published poetry collections and introduced new work. Ron Charles from the Washington Post reports “[a]mong her most powerful new pieces were ‘found poems’ constructed from archival letters that African American veterans sent to President Lincoln asking for pensions they were owed.” Smith is the first poet laureate appointed by the new Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden. Stay tuned for her upcoming efforts to engage rural communities in poetry discussions.
As you might expect, the literature of England is characterized by a fair amount of rain, but what’s interesting is that the Victorian era had the rainiest literature of all. In The Guardian, a look into the history of downpours and drizzles in English narratives. (via Arts and Letters Daily)