“Literary interviews became popular in the eighteen-eighties, but Richard Altick, the late professor of Victorian literature at Ohio State University, traces the public fascination with writers’ homes at least as far back as the eighteen-forties, when there was a vogue for books describing the houses and landscapes of famous authors, complete with engravings and, later, photographs.” On the strangeness of literary celebrity.
It was probably inevitable that someone would turn the ravings of Charlie Sheen into found poetry. But unlike similar collections “by” Donald Rumsfeld and Rod Blagojevich, this one offers us the opportunity to compare it to the real thing – Sheen’s early ’90s chef d’oeuvre, A Peace of My Mind.
“The stories that dominated the serious magazines and journals seemed to share a flat fireless quality… Characters dropped half out of love, or endured a minor crisis, or just wandered around treasuring their sense of dismay about, you know, the fallenness of the world.” In case you missed it: Slate’s review of Stuart Dybek‘s new collection of stories, Paper Lantern, also delivers an acerbic take on the modernist past and current “revitalization” of the American short story.
Recommended Reading: Amy Poehler’s New Yorker essay, “Take Your Licks,” on her summer job at an ice cream parlor. “If the style of the restaurant was old-fashioned, the parenting that went on there was distinctly modern. Moms and dads would patiently recite every item on the menu to their squirming five-year-olds, as if the many flavors of ice cream represented all the unique ways they were loved.” If this essay is any indication, her upcoming memoir is going to be great.
When a professor of literature wrote Flannery O’Connor for a master key for interpreting her story, “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” he probably did not expect her particularly unimpressed reply: “Too much interpretation is certainly worse than too little, and where feeling for a story is absent, theory will not supply it.” (Via the ever-excellent Letters of Note.)
In 1913, Ambrose Bierce, at the age of seventy-one, rode a horse from California to Mexico, where he planned to cover the ongoing Revolutionary War. At some point, he disappeared and died, though accounts vary as to what exactly killed him. At The Paris Review Daily, Forrest Gander recounts the many deaths of the Devil’s Dictionary author, which include a public burning, death by disease and executions at the hands of Mexican soldiers.