At the LRB’s blog, J. Robert Lennon pays tribute to Russell Edson, the playwright, novelist and prose poet who passed away last week. Lennon recounts that Edson was that rare favorite author who he learned about thanks to a cassette tape. (If you like the blog post, you could also read Lennon’s most recent novel.)
“It is early August. A black man is shot by a white policeman. And the effect on the community is of “a lit match in a tin of gasoline.” No, this is not Ferguson, MO.” Laila Lalami reports for NPR on rereading James Baldwin‘s Notes of a Native Son in the context of Ferguson. Pair with Teju Cole‘s essay in The New Yorker about rereading Baldwin’s “Stranger in the Village.”
Peter Osnos on how far the publishing industry has come since the galas and publishing events of the 1990s: “That the action in publishing now is in the creation of books rather than selling the rights to them is a meaningful indicator of the excitement in the industry about the digital potential.”
After reviewing a selection of new books on Godlessness, self-described disappointed disbeliever Christopher Beha wonders if literature can fill the spiritual voids of atheism. Our own Garth Risk Hallberg also investigated a slew of New Atheist books just last year.
“I think people always expect artists to have a larger understanding of the issues they write about. People have looked to writers and artists forever and asked them to be cultural commentators or political commentators, which can be very scary because I can only speak to my own perspective, and I’m figuring this out along with everybody else. I’m not even sure I’m the best person to talk about it, whatever it is, but I’m someone who can and does.” Electric Literature talks with Sarah Gerard about her debut novel Binary Star, which we reviewed here.
It was probably inevitable that someone would turn the ravings of Charlie Sheen into found poetry. But unlike similar collections “by” Donald Rumsfeld and Rod Blagojevich, this one offers us the opportunity to compare it to the real thing – Sheen’s early ’90s chef d’oeuvre, A Peace of My Mind.
“These elements of scandal, by now familiar in the #MeToo era, claimed an unusual casualty on Friday: The Nobel Prize in Literature, the world’s most prestigious accolade for writing.” In the wake of a sex abuse scandal, The Swedish Academy announced it will postpone this year’s award until next year when they will name two winners. In the meantime, maybe we should all mull over the problem with prestigious prizes.