At The Rumpus, a chat with the poet Randall Mann, whose new book, Straight Razor, came out last week. Among the more interesting tidbits revealed in the interview: Mann’s father was an Olympic silver medalist.
“I can tell you that it was his agent who thought it was a bad idea, when the book was first published, to have a black hero.” Roald Dahl's widow says that he intended for the eponymous hero of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to be “a little black boy.” Pair with our own Jacob Lambert's fond recollection of reading Dahl to his son.
An international group of forensic experts studying the poet Pablo Neruda's remains, which were ordered exhumed in 2013, says he didn't die of cancer, as the Nobel laureate's official cause of death states. The question remains: was he poisoned? And if you want to see how Neruda lived, perhaps you might enjoy this tour of writers' houses.
"You’re following some cute glyph about smoking, then one about stationary, then dirty dishes and some mischievous cat—then it’s suddenly 'Not your father’s safari jacket' followed by pearl puddles, LIBERATOR dildos, Quaker teens, rehab, troubled teens, and more jackets. It’s like a mini-Buñuel movie! And they expect you to keep following along with Malcolm Gladwell, or whoever it is, over there to the left? Why would you? You want to shout, Hey Malcolm, can you shut up about Twitter and explain the neo-surrealist montage unfolding perversely in the margins?" The strange amalgamation that is the magazine ad column.
Out this week: Mislaid by Nell Zink; A Hand Reached Down to Guide Me by David Gates; Odd Woman in the City by Vivian Gornick; The Life and Death of Sophie Stark by Anna North; The Jesus Cow by Michael Perry; Lifted by the Great Nothing by Karim Dimechkie; The Mountain Can Wait by Sarah Leipciger; England and Other Stories by Graham Swift; and War of the Encyclopaedists by Christopher Robinson and Gavin Kovite. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great 2015 Book Preview.