“I’ve been hailed as a hero (hipster poets love me), gotten the rock star reception (by research librarians), and been dismissed with derision, thought possibly to be deranged,” says Jon Danzinger. So what’s his job, you might ask? He’s a researcher for the Oxford English Dictionary.
Simon DeDeo writes for AGNI about the first line of Paradise Lost, John Milton’s first disobedience. As he explains it, “The line is a syllable too much. In Milton’s blank verse epic—iambic pentameter, five sets of two-syllable feet—the opening has eleven syllables, not ten.”
Jim Harrison, outdoorsman and author of Legends of the Fall, has passed away at 78. Harrison was a prolific writer whose lust for life was evident in the scores of essay and poetry collections he published during the course of his career. Our own Bill Morris has some thoughts on why Harrison never managed to garner the audience that a writer of his caliber deserved.
"if I am going to set a novel in a real place, in a real time, I must get all the details right. I should not put a wall around Washington Square, start the Iraq War in 2005, or claim that maple trees bear acorns. This matters because it has to do with keeping faith with your readers. If you get something verifiable wrong, why should they believe you when you really are making things up?" Helen Benedict for Amazon Author Insights on finding the balance between research and imagination when writing fiction. (Full disclosure, Amazon helps us pay the bills around here!)
If you get bored on your daily commute, you might want to look at Derive, an app that generates random routes that give you new perspectives on your city. As The Common founder (and Millions contributor) Jennifer Acker puts it: “Let the French show you how to walk.”
The last few weeks have been all about rediscovered works by beloved authors, first Harper Lee's upcoming sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird, then Dr. Seuss's What Pet Should I Get? Now Arthur Conan Doyle joins the trend with a rediscovered Sherlock Holmes short story, available online from Vulture.
Behold the polymathic mind of Terry Castle, professor, literary essayist, and collage artist. At Fevered Brain Productions, her art blog, see digitally alter photos and collages like "Warthog Proffering Rootbeer," "She Polarizes People," "Collage Dramas", and "Kind Hearts and Coronets." And from the LRB archives, check out her controversial quasi-eulogy for Susan Sontag, her reviews (for example, Always the Bridesmaid on Yopie Prins' Victorian Sappho), and her essays (Travels With My Mom). The Professor, Castle's forthcoming book of essays, will be published by HarperCollins in January.
"I have this belief that you have to save at least half of your crucial experiences. The ones that are crystalline. The ones that you always can recall. And you recall that every detail—what actors call a sense impression. You remember how things smelled, what they felt like, how you felt at the moment. You remember every single last part of this episode, or moment in your life." This interview with Norman Mailer from The Paris Review never actually made it to print, which makes it all the more fascinating.
"In the days after the procedure I was sometimes so exhausted by movement that I would wait patiently for someone to come in and give me a paper cup of pills that was almost, not quite, out of my reach. But somehow, I would always contrive to get my pen in my hand, however far it had rolled... When Virginia Woolf’s doctors forbade her to write, she obeyed them. Which makes me ask, what kind of wuss was Woolf?" Hilary Mantel writes a diary on hospitalization for the London Review of Books.