We celebrated Canada Day a bit early here yesterday with the news that Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize for Literature and our review of Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam. So what is Canadian literature exactly? Atwood offered her definition for The Daily Beast: “It’s too multiple [to give a concise definition], but let us say that the point of view (if the writer is not pretending to be American, which they often are) is never that of someone who feels that their country is an imperial power. Because, in fact, Canada is not an imperial power.” You can also see The Handmaid’s Tale at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet next week.
A pair of debuts are making waves this week. Amy Waldman’s The Submission ponders an alternate present in which a Muslim man is the anonymous winner of the search for a design to build the 9/11 memorial at Ground Zero. Ernest Kline’s Player One is a “genre-busting,” pop culture-infused take on the virtual reality future that awaits us.
“An ambidextrous cardsharp, who took losing as a personal insult; a proletarian agitator, who dressed like a dandy; a germ-fearing hypochondriac, smoking 100 cigarettes a day; a lady-killer with rotten teeth, causing a string of abortions wherever he went.” On the Soviet poet Mayakovksy.
Three cheers to the return of storied magazines! This month, The Baffler and Collier’s made triumphant returns after lulls of 2 and 55 years, respectively. Meanwhile, over at Johns Hopkins Magazine, Paris Review editor Lorin Stein explains why “literary magazines still matter.” And, if you know anyone with some extra cash, they could become the next owner of Variety.
Some folks were abuzz this week about the release of all 47 endings to Ernest Hemingway’s novel A Farewell to Arms. That kind of commitment to a single story is impressive, and illustrates the author’s dedication to his work, but as Andrew O’Hagan points out in the London Review of Books, Big Papa loved no story so much as his own.
Fifty years after T.S. Eliot’s death, the poet’s estate has finally agreed to authorize a biography, which explains the publication of Young Eliot, a new book on his early years. Among other things, the book reveals details about Eliot’s first marriage, in which his wife Vivienne Haigh-Wood gave him the nickname “dearest Wonkypenky.”