In 2003, Mary Roach kicked off her book-publishing career with Stiff, a look into the lifespans (pun intended) of cadavers and the ethics of using them for study. At Lapham’s Quarterly, you’ll find the 2001 magazine article that Roach later expanded into Stiff. (Related: we interviewed Roach back in April.)
"Books can be dangerous objects–under their influence people start to wonder, dream, and think." In "celebration" of Banned Book Week, the New York Public Library has a quiz for you to find out how much you know about the freedom to read. See also our tribute to The Bluest Eye, one of the United States' most challenged books.
Regardless of your Valentine's Day plans, do not take advice from Nate Piven, the protagonist of Adelle Waldman's The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. Ron Charles asked Waldman to write another scene of Nate's romantic saga. "He decided it would be best to hedge his bets by getting her something 'ironic.'"
In a piece for the Los Angeles Review of Books, Jonathan Farmer responds to the recent pieces in the New York Times that ask poets to debate the question "does poetry matter?" As Farmer points out, " it's a bit like asking a bunch of religious figures if religion matters," but the conversation is worth following and pairs well with our own recent pieces on poetry's power and popularity.
For whatever reason, the Zippo lighter has earned a place as an icon of Americana, a symbol of everything simple and reliable in the country. At the Ploughshares blog, Nancy McCabein pays a visit to the Zippo Museum, punctuating her account with quotes from works of literature that feature the lighter.