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.
The last meal is a curious staple of modern executions, not least because it involves, in the words of one death-row inmate, “putting gas in a car that don’t have no motor.” At Lapham’s Quarterly, an essay on the ritual’s history, one that includes mention of famous last meals like terminally ill French President Francois Mitterrand’s final dinner of “Marennes oysters, foie gras, and two ortolan songbirds.”
Recommended Reading: Nicole Krauss’s new short story, “I Am Asleep but My Heart Is Awake,” at The New Republic. “My mother had died when I was three. We had already dealt with death, in our way we’d agreed to be finished with it. Then, without warning, my father broke our agreement.”
For the first time in the history of The Morning News’ Tournament of Books, the longlist of all the titles under consideration has been published. From these titles, 16 will emerge for the literary throwdown in March.
Looking for a new literary magazine to submit to? Check out Midnight Breakfast. The Rumpus’s Rebecca Rubenstein edits the online free literary magazine, which is looking for fiction, nonfiction, interviews, and art that will “spark a conversation.” The first issue includes a Jason Diamond coming-of-age essay and a short story by Matthew Salesses.
The Morning News Tournament of Books is around the corner (less than two weeks away, in fact) and readers can now download the bracket (pdf), print it out, and start scribbling in their picks. Along with the bracket, Andrew Seal offers up an array of intriguing statistics from past tournaments. So, now that you can make an educated guess, Who do you think is going to win this year?