A new anthology celebrates poetry “that moves men to tears,” and it includes the likes of Jonathan Franzen, Ian McEwan, and Salman Rushdie. Meanwhile, for BBC Newsnight, Clive James gets choked up while reading Keith Douglas’s “Canoe.”
The New Yorker has collected all the stories from its 20 under 40 series into a single, snappy volume, on sale now. Also out this week is the third volume of Edmund Morris’ biography of Teddy Roosevelt and a new literary foray by comedian Steve Martin, An Object of Beauty.
A memoir by Winnie-the-Pooh author A.A. Milne shows a writer frustrated at how his creation undermined his adult literary cred. Republished 70 years after it went out of print, It’s Too Late Now reveals a trapped Milne wishing for more control over his own narrative: “I wanted to escape from [children’s books] as I had once wanted to escape from Punch; as I have always wanted to escape. In vain. England expects the writer, like the cobbler, to stick to his last.”
“Your opponents would love you to believe that it’s hopeless, that you have no power, that there’s no reason to act, that you can’t win. Hope is a gift you don’t have to surrender, a power you don’t have to throw away.” This seems a better time than most to revisit Rebecca Solnit‘s Hope in the Dark, an excerpt of which ran in The Guardian earlier this year. You can also read our review of Solnit’s The Faraway Nearby here.
Many aspiring writers wind up in publishing jobs or teaching posts. Some view the career choice as a happy union between their creative interests and their vocational qualifications. T. S. Eliot was not so. In an article for The Rumpus, Lisa Levy notes that the poet continued “to work at the bank even after his poems [became] successful,” and that the poet found the work “more conducive to writing poetry and criticism than taking a more literary job might be.”
“This is a huge generalization, but [American novels] have tended not to have all the elements that make it good for television, whether it’s too interior or there’s not enough action. The Brits tended to write more colorful stories rather than the darkness and struggle. Dickens and Trollope certainly knew how to write sequels, books that would make good ongoing series again and again. And the greatest love stories are in the Wuthering Heights and Pride and Prejudice. I don’t know what our equivalent is.” In a piece for The Atlantic Spencer Kornhaber wonders, “Is American Literature Too Dark for TV?“
John Jeremiah Sullivan is working on abandoning the “slightly exaggerated pastiche of himself as narrator” that’s driven most of his essays so far.
Peter Mendelsund writes for the Paris Review about how we see, or think we see, fictional characters. “Characters are ciphers. … We are ever reviewing and reconsidering our mental portraits of characters in novels: amending them, backtracking to check on them, updating them when new information arises.”