You may have heard that The Paris Review Daily is recapping Dante’s Inferno. This week, Alexander Aciman guides readers through Canto 8, better known as the Canto in which Dante crosses the river Styx.
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There are all kinds of arguments for reading the canon (Italo Calvino's come to mind) but why should we spend time reading untested contemporary authors? Tim Parks tackles this question, with a little help from Virginia Woolf, for The New York Review of Book's blog, and his argument pairs well with Guy Patrick Cunningham's Millions essay on reading the classics.
Here’s a fact that’s either very surprising or not surprising at all: Samuel Beckett didn’t want his letters to see the light of day. He once wrote to Barney Rosset that he didn’t care for “the ventilation of private documents.” Despite this disinclination, his third volume of letters comes out this week, and it includes, as detailed by John Banville in a review for The Irish Times, a letter in which Beckett asks that none of his plays be produced in Ireland. Pair with: our own Matt Seidel on Beckett’s "Echo’s Bones."
In The Atlantic Adrienne Green reviews the growing number of Young Adult novels tackling racial injustice and how this increase on the topic is no coincidence. "Coming out of the crucible of the past few years—during which young people have been integral to pushing conversations about the unjustified killings of black men to the forefront—the novels capture the many ways that teens of color cope with prejudice, whether through activism or personal accountability or protest."
Though excellent fiction has been staged in restaurants (Richard Russo's Empire Falls comes to mind, as well as YA novel Hope was Here), I have to admit Rebecca Makkai at Ploughshares has a point that dining-in-public scenes are getting a bit old. "All the unfolding of napkins and poking at the French fries... it's filler."