Word came out yesterday that Jonathan Galassi and Year in Reading alum Mona Simpson will join the Paris Review editorial board. Former editors both — Galassi edited the magazine’s poetry, while Simpson edited its fiction — the two will join Rose Styron, Jeffrey Eugenides and other notable figures on the board. Simpson also has a new novel coming out in April.
“Macbeth has a twist that sets it apart from every other Shakespearean tragedy: Macbeth murders his voice. Mad with fear that Banquo’s heirs will seize the throne, Macbeth has Banquo killed. After that, our antihero is on his own. There is no one left to verify what is real and what is not … When Macbeth’s voice dies, everything else disappears, too. Macbeth is alone.” This excerpt from Jillian Keenan’s Sex With Shakespeare touches on everything from sexuality in Singapore to The O.C. fan-fiction.
“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.
In 1952, John Steinbeck wrote that Al Capp, the cartoonist and Lil’ Abner creator, might well have been the best writer working in the world at the time. In the Times, Andy Webster reviews a new biography of Capp, which reveals that underneath it all lay “a toxic chip on his shoulder.”
This past week saw the release of the final volume in Holy Soul Jelly Roll: Poems & Songs 1949-1993, a collection of recordings—some of which never before released—by Allen Ginsberg. This volume contains the “stunning 1956 Berkeley Town Hall reading of Ginsberg’s seminal poem ‘Howl.’” The volumes are for sale on iTunes, but you can also listen to an “8 song sampler” over on OpenCulture for free.
New this week is Marilynne Robinson’s collection of essays When I Was a Child I Read Books. Also out are Arcadia by Lauren Groff, The Vanishers by Heidi Julavits, and The Reconstructionist by Nick Arvin. Finally, the collected writings of the late and beloved critic John Leonard, Reading for My Life, is now out.