Whether you admire the work of e.e. cummings or think of him mainly as the inspiration for your high school’s worst poet, you’ll enjoy this excerpt of Susan Cheever’s new biography, which touches on the poet’s later years and his relationship with Cheever’s father. The two (contrasting) money quotes here are Malcolm Cowley’s claim that cummings was “the most brilliant monologuist I have known” and this exasperated question posed by Helen Vendler: “What is wrong with a man who writes this?
Miranda July – whose new novel, The First Bad Man, is due in January – has developed a smartphone app that “allows one person to deliver a message to another.” The kicker? Someone other than you will deliver the message verbally and in person. (Sounds like she’s probably due before Congress once again.)
In the early eighties, when the writer James Lasdun was working in publishing, he rejected a book by a writer who turned out to be a pen name for Doris Lessing. The fallout? He couldn’t bring himself to read her work until this year. (Related: our own Mark O’Connell’s interview with Lasdun about his latest book.)
Out this week: Gratitude by Oliver Sacks; And Yet by Christopher Hitchens; The Lost Garden by Ang Li; and a new edition of Drum Taps: The Complete Civil War Poems by Walt Whitman. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-Half 2015 Book Preview.
“How easy for the waterfall to turn back / into the river, the long, silent face / holding all that has passed through it / as though untouched…” A new poem from Charif Shanahan at Lit Hub, “Wanting to Be White,” forces the audience “to reconsider poetics and race, distinct yet indivisible in the American grain.” Not a fan of poetry? Check out our list of ten poems for people who hate poetry.
“But where Smiley condescended, others were enthralled. Salmon Rushdie waxed lyrical, John Updike found it ‘stunning,’ Susan Sontag hosted him at dinner parties. Gabriel Garcia Marquez dubbed him, simply, ‘the Master’ – high praise from the founder of magical realism, but Kapuściński seemed to one-up Garcia Marquez by injecting magic into real politics, and elucidating thereby the human tension and bewilderment connected to power that traditional journalism left hidden.” Ryszard Kapuściński: novelist? Journalist? Or something else entirely?