Seeing as yesterday was Donald Barthelme’s birthday, it’s as good a time as any to remember the short fiction icon. At Brain Pickings, Maria Popova reads Barthelme’s essay “Not-Knowing,” which you can find in the author’s collection of essays and interviews. Sample quote: “Art is not difficult because it wishes to be difficult, but because it wishes to be art.”
Want a book blurb from Margaret Atwood? Expect a poem instead. Atwood has retired from the blurbing business and now declines in rhyming verse. “But now I am aging; my brain is all shrunk,/And my adjective store is depleted;/My hair’s getting stringy, I walk as though drunk;/ As a quotester I’m nigh-on defeated.” Pair with our essays on the blurbing blunder: a history of blurbs, blurbs as publicity stunts, and the fundamental question — to blurb or not to blurb?
“Blume turned 80 earlier this year, and throughout the last 50 years, her tender stories have carved out their own place in feminist history by translating the empowering messages of second-wave feminism to girls often considered too young to understand them.” Marisa Crawford ponders Judy Blume‘s long lasting influence on young girls and their understanding of feminism. Pair with this essay on a day in the life Judy Blume, bookseller.
Pietru Caxaro composed “Il Cantilena” in the late 15th century, and his poem is widely considered to be the oldest known literary text in the Maltese language. Recently conservator Theresa Zammit Lupi worked to restore the original manuscript’s paper, binding and cover in order to “bring new life” to the historic work. You can read an approximate English translation of the poem courtesy of Wikipedia.
At W, a first look at American actress Rooney Mara in character as Lisbeth Salander. The relatively unknown Mara, recently of David Fincher‘s The Social Network, has been cast as Salander to Daniel Craig‘s Mikael Blomkvist in Fincher’s American film version of Stieg Larsson‘s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. The obvious question: does Mara have the chops to outshine Noomi Rapace‘s Salander?
“Seidel scared himself with poetry, and us too. How had he done it?” John Jeremiah Sullivan presented the Hadada Award to Frederick Seidel at The Paris Review’s Spring Revel last month. You can read the full text of his speech and three of Seidel’s poems. This seems to be a much better week for Sullivan because he also just won the James Beard Foundation’s MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing Award for his essay “I Placed a Jar in Tennessee.”