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.”
Gabriel García Márquez has died at the age of 87. The Colombian writer was a prominent novelist, screenwriter, and journalist. He was most famous for One Hundred Years of Solitude, Love in the Time of Cholera, and The Autumn of the Patriarch and won a Nobel Prize in 1982 for his work.
At Goodreads, join debut novelists Malena Watrous, Peter Bognanni, Emily Gray Tedrowe, and Sonya Chung for a meaty and candid discussion, including confessions about procrastination and the fact that we all actually really enjoy writing. Moderated by Katrina Kittle. Click here to join.
This past Wednesday Tracy K. Smith officially began her term as the new U.S. Poet Laureate. After adding her name to the guest book traditionally signed by poet laureates upon the start of their one year term, she read aloud from previously published poetry collections and introduced new work. Ron Charles from the Washington Post reports "[a]mong her most powerful new pieces were 'found poems' constructed from archival letters that African American veterans sent to President Lincoln asking for pensions they were owed." Smith is the first poet laureate appointed by the new Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden. Stay tuned for her upcoming efforts to engage rural communities in poetry discussions.
"(The Great Gatsby) is often considered the greatest American novel of the 20th century—I waver on that sometimes but I love the beauty of its writing, its tabloid immediacy, the high body count, its modernistic touches, the relentless drama put into its novella-length form." Bret Easton Ellis's top ten favorite books doesn't include many surprises, but it's worth a look.
"It is now, at this precise moment when I become woefully aware of the cruel transience of this seasonal offering, rarely lingering beyond the Marigold blooms of latter March, and at once I am lost amidst a magnificent vision, one in which our hallowed Saint Patrick himself is riding shotgun alongside me in this very Camry." In which James Joyce orders a shamrock milkshake.
In The Age of The Crisis of Man, a new book by n + 1 co-founder and editor Mark Greif, the author examines the life and death of the concept of “man,” aka a unified humankind that could be said to suffer from particular conflicts. It was born in the thirties, with the rise of Fascism, but persisted for decades, eventually giving way to a more diversified view of humanity. In Tablet, Adam Kirsch dives into Greif’s arguments.