Recommended Reading: Bret Anthony Johnston on (not) writing what you know. His essay is an excerpt of Writer’s Notebook II, published by the folks at Tin House. (Related: we published Harper’s editor Christopher Beha’s essay in the book last year.)
“All war literature, across the centuries, bears witness to certain eternal truths: the death and chaos encountered, minute by minute; the bonds of love and loyalty among soldiers; the bad dreams and worse anxieties that afflict many of those lucky enough to return home.” In an omnibus review for The New York Times Michiko Kakutani looks at the fiction and journalism being written about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, including recent Year in Reading alum and National Book Award winner Phil Klay‘s Redeployment and Dexter Filkins’s The Forever War, “the one book that most fluently and kaleidoscopically captures both the micro and the macro of Iraq.” She also wonders, and attempts to explain, “why has there been no big, symphonic Iraq or Afghanistan novel?”
“By now, you are probably asking yourself, Did these two ever talk about anything serious? Of course, we did. We talked about how writing a poem is no different from taking out a frying pan and concocting a dish out of the ingredients available in the house, how in poetry, as in cooking, it’s all a matter of subtle little touches that come from long experience or are the result of sudden inspiration.” Charles Simic writes movingly about his friend, the late poet Mark Strand, and their various schemes, from buying palazzos to founding a gastronomic poetry movement, for The New York Review of Books.
If there existed a trophy for the ugliest-looking but prettiest-sounding language, then the 721,700 living Welsh speakers would boast more championships than Alabama’s football team. Yes, the Welsh. They of the villages Llangefni and Llanfairfechan. (To say nothing of Llanfairpwllgwyngyll.) Wouldn’t it be a shame for such a language to disappear? For writing in this language to stop being published? Stanford’s Cynthia Haven thinks so.