All of Faulkner’s characters exist in the same county, so they probably ran into each other. What if there were a Real Housewives of Yoknapatawpha County? Nathan Pensky humorously imagines the feuds between As I Lay Dying’s Addie Bundren and the protagonist of “A Rose for Emily” among others at McSweeney’s.
In an excerpt of Out of Time, a new book on “the pleasures and perils of ageing,” author Lynne Segal makes a case that many iconic male writers — among them Philip Roth, John Updike and Martin Amis — display in their works a belief that the slow loss of virility is one of the most tragic effects of growing older for men. Citing passages from Toward the End of Time and Portnoy’s Complaint, she finds evidence that these writers’ depictions of masculinity reveal “obdurate social hierarchies of gender and ageing.” (Related: Keith Meatto on advice you can glean from Philip Roth’s work.)
“The magical aspect of poetry does not diminish the value of critical scrutiny. Scholarship has clarified the meaning of poetry. The point is rather that an essential part of poetry’s power has little connection to conceptual understanding. Poetry proffers some mysteries that lie beyond paraphrase.” Dana Gioia with a beautiful essay on the enchantment of poetry for The Dark Horse. Check out our extensive On Poetry archive and continue your journey of poetic enchantment.
W.H. Auden lived a secret life, not as a man with a second family or an illicit habit but as, weirdly enough, a genuinely kind human being. He paid for a friend’s costly operation and camped outside the apartment of a woman who suffered from night terrors until she felt safe enough to sleep on her own again. So why did the poet want to hide his good deeds? He claimed he didn’t want to be admired for basic decency.