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.
“As much as I claimed that I read for my own edification, it was a lie. The books I was most drawn to were those that were loved by someone in my life. Reading them, I thought, would teach me all I needed to know about them—nice and safe, from a distance. Reading them with one hand, it was easy to have the other keep them at arm’s length.” Romy Sugden writes for The Oyster Review about trying to connect with her estranged father by reading John le Carré‘s A Perfect Spy.
I know, I know – another piece about “the canon.” This one, however, is sure to elicit a response one way or another. A sampling: “There are few (arguably no) female poets writing in Chaucer’s time who rival Chaucer in wit, transgressiveness, texture, or psychological insight. The lack of equal opportunity was a tremendous injustice stemming from oppressive social norms, but we can’t reverse it by willing brilliant female wordsmiths into the past. Same goes for people of color in Wordsworth’s day, or openly queer people in Pope’s, or …”
“Video games are worth loving, but loving them comes with shame. Not passing regret or social embarrassment, but a sharp-edged physical guilt: the hunch-backed, raw-fingered, burning-eyed pain that comes at the sad and greasy end of an all-night binge. You have ostentatiously, really viciously wasted your life; you might as well have been masturbating for the last nine hours—your hands, at least, would feel better.” Gabriel Winslow-Yost reviews the best “homemade” video games for n+1.
Charlaine Harris is wrapping up the final installment of her popular Southern Vampire Mysteries series next May. The final novel, Dead Ever After, will be the thirteenth book in the set, which means there’s still plenty of material for True Blood to work with.
The book cover is in decline, Tim Kreider writes. “It seems as if sixty-five per cent of all novels’ jackets feature an item of female apparel and/or part of the female anatomy and the name of some foodstuff in the title—the book-cover equivalent of the generic tough-guy-with-gun movie poster with title like ‘2 HARD & 2 FAST.'” We judge books by their covers, too.
“I believe that just as much as teens fear time, adults do as well. It would be selfish of us to think that they can understand and accept our evolution into adulthood much easier than we can. Maybe in reality, teenagers and parents are scared of the same things.” The LARB runs a 15-year-old reader’s honest review of The Fault in Our Stars.