“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.”
A couple weeks ago, Darcey Steinke wrote an essay for The Millions in which she remembered her friendship with Barry Hannah. She went into detail about the freewheeling energy of his prose. Now, in a review of Steinke's latest for Bookforum, Lisa Locascio writes about the author's own talents. “Many authors bounce the sacred and profane against each another; Steinke blasts them together with the intensity of CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC),” she writes.
The B.O.M.M. blog looked at our recent item Best American Short Stories: By the Numbers, in which we crunched some numbers behind the Best American Short Stories series, and created a nifty word map of the short story titles that appeared in the series from 1978 to 2008. "The most frequent word for a title (not including articles and such)? Life. It has appeared 9 times." If anyone else decides to mine some interesting discoveries from the B.A.S.S. data, let us know.
In a long investigation of Hunter S. Thompson’s classic essay, “The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved” (PDF), Josh Roiland takes readers to church by pointing out exactly what’s so alluring about the piece, which “scholars often point to … as the origin of Gonzo Journalism.”
If you've ever had a successful friend you secretly envied and maybe even hated, you may be in startlingly good company: a new reading of an old letter between Groucho Marx and T.S. Eliot indicates that the "flamboyant misanthrope and the restrained one" shared exactly this kind of frenemyship. Unrelated: a short recording of Eliot reading "The Naming of Cats."
“A perfect example of what the short story can do when the form is at its best: containing as much of an emotional blow as that of a 800-page novel, regardless of its brevity.” The Guardian awards its 4th Estate BAME short story prize to "Auld Lang Syne" by Lisa Smith. The prize was launched in 2015 in response to a report “which found that black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) writers struggled both to get published and against stereotypes imposed by the UK’s overwhelmingly white publishing industry.”