In the late 1860s, James Crichton-Browne, director of the West Riding Lunatic Asylum, gave Charles Darwin a collection of photographic portraits depicting the “afflicted and insane.” What followed was a six-year relationship in which both men corresponded about “the physical manifestations of natural selection.”
Did your MFA program offer impractical courses like “Problems in Modern Fiction”? At the Ploughshares blog, Rebecca Makkai offers some suggestions for more useful classes, such as “Introduction to Despair,” “Pretending You’re Talking to Terry Gross When You’re Alone in the Car,” and “The Art of the Flirty Author Photo Grimace.” Pair with: Our interview with Makkai.
New this week: God Help the Child by Toni Morrison; The Blondes by Emily Schultz; The Miracle Girl by Andrew Roe; Positive by David Wellington; This Is How It Really Sounds by Stuart Archer Cohen; When the Night Comes by Favel Parrett; Seven Devils by M.G. Miller; and Paris Red by Maureen Gibbon. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great 2015 Book Preview.
For a man who’s retired, Philip Roth is still oddly present in the literary world. Ever since he announced his intention to quit writing, he’s made a stream of public appearances, including an awards ceremony at Yaddo one week after claiming he’d never appear on stage again. So what gives? In The Baffler, J.C. Hallman explains why writers can never really quit, in a piece that nicely complements our own take on literary retirement. FYI, Hallman has written for us.