A hundred years after the First World War began, many people are looking anew at the conflict, among them Thomas Laquer, who wrote a lengthy reflection of its causes in an LRB review of Christopher Clark’s The Sleepwalkers. In The New Yorker, George Packer uses the war as a jumping-off point for an essay on a broader topic: the evolution of war literature in the modern world.
Jonathan Lethem thinks his work is taken too seriously. “Well, I was just watching Richard Pryor, and he says, ‘When you’re dating a white woman, and people don’t like it, you can’t really pretend. You can’t go, “Oh, she’s not with me.”‘ ‘You write the big, ambitious books, right?’ Well, I guess they are,” he said in an interview with Salon. He also discusses being equated with Jonathan Franzen and his new novel, Dissident Gardens.
Ever got the feeling that literary life used to be a lot more glamorous? Well, thanks to this review, we now have some proof that it was. In The Times Literary Supplement, a review of Antonia Fraser’s new memoir, which includes her memories of meeting the Queen and dancing with T.S. Eliot. (h/t Arts and Letters Daily)
20 unpublished poems by Pablo Neruda were recently discovered. You can read one (in Spanish) over here. The poems will be published in Chile this year, and in Spain next year. Meanwhile, a local judge is not quite ready to abandon his probe into whether or not Neruda was poisoned – a theory that’s been reported for quite some time now.