Piggybacking off a brief aside in Ian Frazier’s new review of James Agee’s Cotton Tenants, Claire Kelley explores an odd and intriguing question: was Agee related to Walt Whitman? (Related: Mallory Ortberg on the probability that Whitman did the dirty with Oscar Wilde.)
Nell Zink, whose second novel comes out next week, has one of the lit world’s more unusual origin stories. An expat in Germany, she wrote her first novel in three weeks, after striking up a friendship over email with Jonathan Franzen. In the latest New Yorker, Kathryn Schulz details her story in full. You could also read Emily Gould’s recommendation of her work for Year in Reading.
At The Awl, a gritty interview with Daily News crime reporter Kerry Burke (who was once featured in a Bravo “reality show” Tabloid Wars that I loved but that was sadly cancelled). Burke says, “I’m not a very nice person. I’m not from a nice place. At the same time, I love these people. These are my people.”
A spate of notable literary homes have dotted high-end real estate recently. Earlier, The Telegraph reported that Bran Castle, whose famed fictional occupants include Count Dracula from the eponymous novel by Bram Stoker, is seeking offers. Yesterday, Ray Bradbury’s cheery 3-bedroom yellow house was listed at at $1.5 million. Sadly, the more-affordable $350,000 home of beloved children’s book writer Beverly Clearly was snapped up last week. Writers hoping to add to the stock of literature-imprinted real estate, take note: Detroit nonprofit Write A House, which renovates vacant homes and awards them to writers and poets free of charge, is accepting applications until June 21.
“While I’m glad we’ve had this chance to talk, because of time constraints I cannot answer these basic questions about race and how racism works.” Colson Whitehead considers new business cards. See our review of his Pulitzer-winning The Underground Railroad here.