I’ve noted before how William Carlos Williams’s famous poem, “This Is Just to Say,” has become an internet meme, but I haven’t noted the ongoing and delightfully random “Just to Say” Twitter bot. And also, I haven’t before linked to Tammy Ho Lai-Ming’s riff on Williams’s rhythms.
The correspondence of Vladimir Nabokov and the critic Edmund Wilson suffered from Wilson’s inability to appreciate Nabokov’s work. But by the spring of 1950, illness had affected both men to the point where a skilled correspondent in the ways of the U.S. mail became “a panacea to pain.”
Fans of the French Oulipo movement will know about A Void, the Georges Perec novel written entirely without the use of the letter “e.” What very few readers of any kind know, however, is that in 1939, thirty years before Perec’s novel was published, Ernest Vincent Wright wrote a book in English, Gadsby, that hewed to these same constraints. At The Atlantic, Nikhil Sonnad investigates how this experiment plays out in the book.
“At the outset, Nair is in Sierra Leone to keep tabs on his old friend and uses the occasion to practice a little freelance extortion, stealing unspecified multinational secrets on a flash drive and sending them back to his girlfriend in Amsterdam. The first 50 pages are like a Johnsonian take on Graham Greene’s humid morality-play potboilers. Nair keeps meeting shifty European acquaintances and distrusting everything they say.” John Lingan reviews Denis Johnson’s new novel.
Last week marked the release of The Heart is Strange, a new collection of John Berryman poems released to coincide with the centenary of the poet’s birth. At The Paris Review Daily, Dan Piepenbring digs through the magazine’s interview archives to find Berryman’s account of meeting W.B. Yeats. Pair with: Stephen Akey on Berryman’s classic The Dream Songs.