In 2012, the Portuguese writer José Luís Peixoto, on the occasion of Kim Il-Sung’s 100th birthday, went to North Korea for a fifteen-day trip. The experience led him to write a travel memoir, Inside the Secret, which you can read in serialized form online at Ninth Letter magazine. You could also read Pulitzer laureate Adam Johnson’s new Granta essay about the country.
What’s the deal with all of the novels about famous writers? Perhaps it has to do with the fact that, according to Heller McAlpin at The Literary Hub, “there’s a special frisson of pleasure in reading about writers’ early struggles when you know what the future holds for them—which in the case of most of these authors is posthumous literary acclaim beyond their wildest dreams.”
“I couldn’t tell if a poem I was writing would come to anything or not until the last line was there. That’s always been my method. I may have revised less than some other poets, but I think I write as much crap as anyone.” Kaveh Akbar interviews Sharon Olds about inspiration, contemporary poetry, and rejection letters for Divedapper. Pair with this Millions piece, featuring seven editors looking back on their rejection styles.
Tin House magazine’s new Theft issue includes gems like this poem from Matthew Zapruder and this story by Kirsten Bakis among many others. John Brandon’s essay from The Millions on the literary consequence of petty theft is a perfect follow-up read for all of you kleptomaniacs out there.
“Between 1990 and 2014, visits to public libraries grew by a whopping 181%. For context, the population of the United States increased by 28% during that period.” Why the library boom? (via The Digital Reader) See also this paean by Daniel Penev in our own pages,“The Library Is Dead. Long Live the Library!”
Recommended Reading: Thomas Dylan Eaton on the Austrian writer Peter Handke.
The L Magazine features an interview with poet/multi-genre artist Claudia Rankine, whose performance piece The Provenance of Beauty: A South Bronx Travelogue — a Rankine-written-and-recorded narrative that accompanies a bus ride through the South Bronx — will run for two months beginning Labor Day Weekend.