Peter Matthiessen died today, according to a statement released by his publisher: “Peter Matthiessen, award-winning author of more than thirty books, world-renowned naturalist, explorer, Buddhist teacher, and political activist, died at 5:15 PM on Saturday April 5, 2014 after an illness of some months.” Matthiessen was the author most notably of two National Book Award-winning volumes, the novel Shadow Country and in non-fiction The Snow Leopard.
"The last line of Saul Bellow's 'A Single Dish' is nothing like poetry. I can’t tell you what any single one of those words means. Imagine you’re a lexicographer and you have to define the word that, or how. And on top of this, there’s none of Bellow’s typical play with rhythm and language—it’s almost a non-sentence. And yet, when I get to it in the story, I weep." Ethan Canin at The Atlantic on how Saul Bellow packs so much emotion into a single sentence. Here are a couple Bellow-related Millions links for your perusing pleasure.
Recommended Reading: a piece from the New York Review of Books blog on modern attention spans and what they mean for literature. Hint: it's not looking too promising. Tim Parks closes with a prediction that "the novel of elegant, highly distinct prose, of conceptual delicacy and syntactical complexity, will tend to divide itself up into shorter and shorter sections, offering more frequent pauses where we can take time out. The larger popular novel, or the novel of extensive narrative architecture, will be ever more laden with repetitive formulas, and coercive, declamatory rhetoric to make it easier and easier, after breaks, to pick up, not a thread, but a sturdy cable."
Recommended recommendations: Nancy Kline surveys recently translated French novels for the New York Times Book Review. Pair with our own Bill Morris's piece in the Daily Beast on the 2014 Nobel Prize Winner Patrick Modiano and "Why American's Don't Read Foreign Fiction."
Michael Kimball wants to save you $50,000 dollars on an MFA - by sharing what's he taught himself. Interested in reading more from someone without a traditional writing degree? Our own Hannah Gersen explains "The Value of Writing Programs: On Why I Don't Have an MFA."