“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.”
Coincident with the release of her new novel, Marie-Helene Bertino published an excerpt in the latest issue of Granta. It features, among other things, a character using the phrase “better-him-than-me kind of park.” You could also read Bertino’s interview with Jessica Gross, which followed the publication of her debut book of short stories.
“Maurice Sendak drew his partner Eugene after he died, as he had drawn his family members when they were dying. The moment is one he was compelled to capture, pin down, understand, see. Where many— maybe most—people look away, he wanted to render. He was very wrapped up in the goodbye, the flight, the loss; it was almost Victorian, to be so deeply entranced with the moment of death, the instinct to preserve or document it. It’s also the artist’s impulse: to turn something terrible into art, to take something you are terrified of and heartbroken by and make it into something else. For the time it takes to draw what is in front of you, you are not helpless or a bystander or bereft: You are doing your job.” On Maurice Sendak and the art of death.
According to some new research conducted by ebook retailer Kobo, the digital reading revolution (if it still exists) is being powered by prolific readers who are primarily female and older than forty-five. The study asserts that women make up almost seventy-five percent of “active” e-readers, defined as those who spend more than thirty minutes per day reading. What does all of this mean? Who knows, but keep reading.
Cheryl Strayed’s collection of “Dear Sugar” columns is out this week (read our review). Also out are Our Kind of People by Uzodinma Iweala, The Investigation by Philippe Claudel, True Believers by Kurt Andersen, and The Absolutist by John Boyne. The new edition of Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms with all the extra endings is out, as is (just in time for the Olympics) an oral history of the original Dream Team. Donald Ray Pollack’s The Devil All the Time is out in paperback.
Sam Sacks takes a look at the “two major acts” in the life of Vasily Grossman, the Jewish-Russian author perhaps best known for his monumental account of the Stalingrad siege, Life and Fate. (Bonus: Life and Fate was picked by Stephen Dodson as his Year in Reading pick back in 2011.)