Considering an anthology about writers leaving New York came out last year (with a contribution by our own Emily St. John Mandel), it makes sense that we should now look back on the career of E.B. White, who gave up his Manhattan apartment for a farm in rural Maine.
“I’m sure the ghost is fascinated by the N.Y.C. vs. M.F.A. debate, and would add that there’s a literary-world bias… toward writing done by the living.” The New Yorker interviews Rebecca Curtis about ghost stories and her latest piece of short fiction, “The Pink House.” For more about Curtis, check out our review of her debut collection Twenty Grand: And Other Tales of Love and Money.
Ben Yagoda provides a step-by-step recount of the 1959 British obscenity case over Lady Chatterley’s Lover, and every noted literary name from Graham Greene to Evelyn Waugh to T. S. Eliot who weighed in: “The whole thing was very well stage-managed with a splendid cast.”
Recommended Reading: This piece on a digital afterlife — duplicating oneself via computer program — which is by turns troubling and oddly reassuring: “The human brain has about a hundred billion neurons. The connectional complexity is staggering. By some estimates, the human brain compares to the entire content of the internet. It’s only a matter of time, however, and not very much at that, before computer scientists can simulate a hundred billion neurons.”
Writing for n+1’s City by City series, Moira Donegan remarks on the “self-defeating contradictions” of working at a nonprofit in New Orleans. It’s a town, she writes, where most arrive to either “perform charity or to party,” and where, she feels, “many of the people who … come to help the city [are] also hurting it.” In certain ways, the piece can be read as being in conversation with Duncan Murrell’s 2012 essay for Oxford American about authenticity, preservation, posterity, and the Big Easy.
“A coroner’s pronouncement of suicide (felo da se) resulted in forfeiture of the deceased’s goods and property to the state, often leaving any surviving relatives destitute. So the increasingly common verdict of temporary insanity (non compos mentis) may suggest a change in how people understood the act of self-destruction: no longer construed as a demonic temptation, it came instead to be viewed as a symptom of lunacy.” On the prevalence of suicide in eighteenth-century English literature.