You may have heard that the actor Peter O’Toole passed away in London on Saturday. As a tribute, Longform republished a 1963 profile of O’Toole by Gay Talese, who accompanied the Lawrence of Arabia star on a trip to Ireland.
“If the taglines used to market lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans to the country’s mainstream—‘Love Wins,’ ‘It Gets Better,’ and ‘You Can Play’—have led to unprecedented levels of inclusion and visibility, it is precisely by shoving sex aside and presenting gay people and straight people as essentially the same at heart. In the process, as the outsider status attached to being gay disappears in more and more contexts, some of gay culture’s radical roots risk being expunged from memory.” On Jim Downs’s Stand by Me: The Forgotten History of Gay Liberation.
Recently, it seemed hard to find a book not blurbed by Gary Shteyngart. He did blurb 150 books in the past decade. Yet now the author has decided to mostly retire from blurbing, he announced in The New Yorker. "Literature can and will go on without my mass blurbing. Perhaps it may even improve." Pair with: Our own Bill Morris's essay on whether or not to blurb.
More than ever, we need literature that gives Westerners a compelling entrée into—a way of better understanding—the lives of war-and-terrorism fraught regions. Over at Bloom, T.L. Khleif, recent recipient of a Rona Jaffe award, writes about Jamil Ahmad’s The Wandering Falcon, a collection that immerses readers in the tribal areas of Pakistan prior to the rise of the Taliban. Among other notable honors, Ahmad joins the pantheon of late-blooming male authors who would not have ever published were it not for the stubborn encouragement of their wives.
Francine Prose has an idiosyncratic theory that the Hindu god Ganesh is a vital part of her writing process. In a VQR essay, she explains that her portrait of the deity (which she purchased forty years ago at a bazaar in Mumbai) gives her a kind of confidence that goes beyond superstition. As support for this belief, she points out that Ganesh is known in some quarters as “the writer’s god.”
Our intrepid AWP #LitBeat correspondent attended an offsite event called "Books Have Ruined Our Lives, Now We Want to Ruin Yours"