Following a recent essay on the value of ambivalence, our own Mark O’Connell explores the nature of confidence in this week’s New York Times Magazine. Perhaps not surprisingly, he writes that this year’s Web Summit convinced him that tech moguls are congenitally more confident than writers.
“My goal isn’t soft multiculturalism, but rather to convey a richer and fuller sense of what literature is, what the possibilities are, and to share the voices that often get excluded or silenced when we speak of ‘literature’ and ‘writing.’” Guernica interviews Counternarratives author John Keene.
Sylvia Plath’s final days have long been a source of fascination and horror for many readers. In a forthcoming unauthorized biography of Plath’s husband Ted Hughes, it is claimed that one of Hughes’s more contentious poems, "Last Letter," was written after an argument the couple had the night before Plath took her own life. Ted Hughes: An Unauthorized Life is out next week.
We thoroughly enjoyed the latest episode of David Naimon's Between the Covers podcast featuring Whiting-Award winner Tyehimba Jess. The conversation centers on Jess's latest book, Olio, a tour de force hybrid-genre exploration of African-American performers from the period just before the American Civil War through World War I. (Previously: We recommended Jess's Leadbelly as perfect reading for train travel.)
“Anyway, once his last season was over and NBA hadn’t called, Buck set his sights on coaching. Teaching was the best venue to get there. His wife, a pretty round faced blonde this time, was also a teacher; she taught fourth grade with my wife, Sherri. Working together had formed a friendship and it was this friendship that brought me — a manager at the Kraft Cheese plant — into this conversation with three public school teachers.” What we talk about when we talk about the Common Core.
Recommended viewing: The New Yorker's Adam Gopnik talks about his early years in New York writing for the magazine "though they simply weren't aware of it, or when they were aware of it they were extremely unenthusiastic," and about all the odd jobs that often make up a writer's early career, something our own Emily St. James Mandel has written about before.