In a long investigation of Hunter S. Thompson’s classic essay, “The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved” (PDF), Josh Roiland takes readers to church by pointing out exactly what’s so alluring about the piece, which “scholars often point to … as the origin of Gonzo Journalism.”
Following up her post about Judy Blume’s Forever, our own Lydia Kiesling writes about Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita for PEN American Center’s ongoing series for Banned Books Month. It’s a book, Kiesling writes, which serves as an “exhibition of a uniquely talented person at the zenith of his powers.” (This isn’t the first time she’s discussed the book, by the way.)
In the wake of Jonathan Franzen‘s much discussed New Yorker essay on Edith Wharton, Laura Miller defends readers who look to an author’s life to aid their understanding of a given work: ” Byron’s clubfoot, Flannery O’Connor’s lupus, Coleridge’s opium addiction and whatever was wrong with Hemingway do interest many readers because these factors shaped the life experiences from which the great work sprang.”
Recently, we featured five writers’ reminisces about the novels they ultimately shelved. Here a sixth, Elmo Keep, explains what led her to throw away her first novel, quite outside considerations of craft:”I could not resolve the conflict of a story that was not mine.”
A scholar who has uncovered Walt Whitman‘s handwritten documents announced his findings Tuesday at the National Archives. These documents are from Whitman‘s time as a government worker, concerning civil rights, war crimes, treason, and western expansion. View the documents here.