“Since I often biked to my therapist’s, he took note of my helmet and asked how my new exercise regimen was going. It’s going great! I said. I love it! I wish I’d known earlier that I ought to bike. Now I hated going underground. It was like the death instinct to go underground, into the subway. I never realized I hated it so utterly until I didn’t have to do it anymore.” On riding a bike in New York.
Fifty years ago, Frank O’Hara released Lunch Poems, a collection of remarkably informal poetry that rebuked the more academic verse of his day. As a tribute, Dwight Garner writes about the importance of the book in the Times, arguing that O’Hara’s grasp of the zeitgeist is the reason he appeared on Mad Men. For more on the poet’s legacy, take a look at Christopher Richards on O’Hara’s lessons for being gay.
The finalists for the John Leonard Prize — for a first book in any genre — were announced by the National Book Critics Circle. This year’s finalists are Lesley Nneka Arimah‘s What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky, Julie Buntin‘s Marlena, Zinzi Clemmons’ What We Lose, Layli Long Soldier’s Whereas, Carmen Maria Machado‘s Her Body and Other Parties, and Gabriel Tallent‘s My Absolute Darling. The winner will be announced in January. Pair with: Buntin’s 2017 Year in Reading entry.
Starting today and lasting until the end of the summer, The New Yorker is completely free online, including archives back to 2007. What to read? To start off, try searching the fiction page for, say, George Saunders. There’s that famous Lawrence Wright piece on Scientology. Or feel free to consult the magazine’s own roundup. But I happen to be most impressed by this grandaddy of all longform articles on six survivors of Hiroshima (subscription required).
An excerpt of the lost and recently found Alexandre Dumas novel The Last CavalierAn assessment of poetic cliches in VQR. The surprise: some actually improve your chance of getting published.Jennifer Gilmore interviews the criminally underrated Max Apple.That novelists’ strike not working out so well.Despite some withering condescension, Robert Gottlieb has interesting things to say about John Steinbeck.Penguin UK offers up some alternative storytelling techniques with its We Tell Stories site. The first is a tale by Charles Cumming told by messages inserted into Google Maps. (Thx, Mrs. Millions)Books cops like. (Thx, Laurie)The trend of the massive hyper-expensive book continues.Daniel Radosh points out that the New York Times has, yet again, published a trend piece on bloggers getting book deals.And finally… The Catalog of Unfit Toys: Finding Delight in the Defective
“We have documented cases of at least 47 writers and journalists currently imprisoned in China. The average sentence for a writer is eight years in prison, and some sentences are even harsher.” PEN American Writers send a letter to Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China, in response to his visit to the U.S. We have a few pieces about censorship to pair with it.
At Full Stop, the editors interview Susan Bernofsky, who directs the literary translation program at Columbia and has published translations of works by Robert Walser, among other writers. She talks about German phrases that rarely appear in English, as well as the ethics of translating a work faithfully: “I think it’s the translator’s responsibility to be so attuned to the requirements of a given text (and the universe of the author) that these inevitable interventions are always appropriate and never arbitrary or willful,” she says. You could also read Tanya Paperny on the translator Michael Henry Heim.