If at some point in your life you lose a beloved pet, and if, while mourning, you decide to write an obituary, know this — whatever you write will not be as good as E.B. White’s tribute to his dog. (You can read more pieces like it in the perfectly-titled E.B. White on Dogs.)
Lolita has been, for decades, a great inspiration to cover designers, and all those great covers inspired architect John Bertram to hold his own cover design contest to see who could best re-imagine Nabokov’s classic. The resulting competition has now inspired a book, coming in August, with a cover by designers Sulki & Min that references a letter Nabokov sent to his American publisher, Walter J. Minton of Putnam, in April 1959 about the cover design for Lolita. “I want pure colors, melting clouds, accurately drawn details, a sunburst above a receding road with the light reflected in furrows and ruts, after rain. And no girls. If we cannot find that kind of artistic and virile painting, let us settle for an immaculate white jacket (rough texture paper instead of the usual glossy kind), with LOLITA in bold black lettering.” More: An interview with Bertram.
The New York Times interviews Jacqueline Woodson, National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and Tracy K. Smith, poet laureate of the United States for National Poetry Month. They discuss black history, bringing poetry to the central and rural parts of the country and to those who are incarcerated and why poetry isn’t as popular among adults. “Listening to music and lyrics and watching movies, I think, uses a lot of the same muscles we use in reading and experiencing poetry — and yet we somehow forget that we have those when it comes to sitting down with a book of poems.” It’s a delight, happy Saturday!
File under events you won’t want to miss: Kate Zambreno hosts her second Belladonna* Prose Event this Tuesday in New York, featuring three leading ladies of innovative lit. Renee Gladman, Danielle Dutton, and Amina Cain will discuss the walker as essayist, flaneuring through urban space, and skirting the margins of genre. 7:30pm, at Dixon Place.
Out this week: Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta; After the Parade by Lori Ostlund; Hotel by Joanna Walsh; The Bamboo Stalk by Saud Alsanousi; Succession by Livi Michael; Selected Later Poems by C.K. Williams; and Notes on the Assemblage by Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great Second-Half 2015 Book Preview.
Michael Seidlinger writes on how consciousness occurs online. As he puts it, “We have all become Sisyphus, pushing our rocks up a hill littered with hyperlinks and tweets, perpetually, futilely, refreshing the page of existence.” Pair with this Millions piece on the best of literary Twitter.
It was the height of the feminist revolution and one man was trying, unsuccessfully, to publish a book about a man amidst a midlife crisis. 25 years later, Esquire editor Gordon Lish read sections of An Armful of Warm Girl in a literary magazine and demanded that Knopf reconsider publishing it (they did). This week over at Bloom, Nicki Leone dives into the work of W.M. Spackman, the man often referred to as “Fitzgerald‘s literary heir.”