Recommended Reading: Ben Marcus’s short story “Leaving the Sea” in the current issue of Tin House.
When Kurt Vonnegut wasn’t writing, he was drawing. “The making of pictures is to writing what laughing gas is to the Asian influenza,” he said. The New Yorker has a slideshow of 10 of his cubist sketches. You can find more of his doodles in the new book Kurt Vonnegut Drawings.
Over at Brooklyn Magazine, Molly McArdle writes on J.K. Rowling’s ever-expanding universe. As she puts it, “New canonical information flows from: Pottermore, the fictional universe’s official website; Rowling’s Twitter account; interviews; a forthcoming movie trilogy; and now two plays, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, produced in tandem in London with scripts available for sale in a single volume worldwide. This is Harry Potter’s long, strange afterlife. Or maybe it’s more like an undeath.” Pair with Janet Manley’s Millions essay on The Cursed Child and British humiliation.
Emily Dickinson wrote her poetry in a house in Amherst. Mark Twain wrote many of his best works on his estate in Connecticut. And Geoffrey Chaucer, it turns out, wrote in a cramped bachelor pad, nestled in the east side of the wall surrounding London. In The Spectator, a reading of Paul Strohm’s Chaucer’s Tale, which describes a pivotal year in the poet’s life.
“To age is to understand that the powers of total recovery are gone, are no longer anticipated (except by those who, having lost their marbles, no longer know what to anticipate).” The epistolary legacy of writers such as Samuel Beckett, Saul Bellow, and Elizabeth Bishop offers invaluable insight into the process of growing older, writes Robert Fay for The Atlantic. See also our own Lydia Kiesling on the narrative possibilities of leaked emails.
Michael Lewis gave the 2012 Baccalaureate Address at Princeton University this year, and used his time to speak about life experience, the strange paths we take after graduation, and everyone’s “debt to the unlucky.” You can watch the speech here, or you can read the transcript here.