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.)
“Poetry is not connected to my professional work – it is my personal world,” says India’s newly-appointed ambassador to Argentina, Amarendra Khatua. Indeed, Khatua’s but the latest high-profile figure in Indian government to turn to creative writing to seek “emotional refuge” and a means of “battl[ing] workplace blues and the stress of decision making.”
Putting aside for a moment the racist phrenological roots of the terms “highbrow” and “lowbrow,” here’s an interesting conversation on what the difference between them means for literature now. For a historical take, check out this graphic from a 1949 edition of LIFE magazine, which taught me a real gentleman wears fuzzy tweed, and iceberg lettuce is never in style.
“Hope is a gift you don’t have to surrender, a power you don’t have to throw away. And though hope can be an act of defiance, defiance isn’t enough reason to hope. But there are good reasons.” Rebecca Solnit, author of Men Explain Things To Me, on maintaining hope and resisting defeatism.
The Washington Post offers a long profile of the still underappreciated Edward P. Jones. We learn he hasn’t put a word of fiction to paper in four years but has been writing in his head. “‘I write a lot in my head,’ he says. ‘I’ve never been driven to write things down.'” (via @keelinmc)
“As I read her words, I experienced a feeling previously unknown to me: recognition. I had always turned to books for pleasure, as portals to other places. Reading The Woman Warrior, for the first time I saw myself on every page and in every word.” For Catapult, Alexis Cheung writes about representation, being an Asian-American writer, and reading and interviewing Maxine Hong Kingston. From our archives: Kingston’s work was featured in Alexander Chee‘s 2015 Year in Reading.
According to a recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, Americans are reading fewer books than they were back in 2014. A whopping twenty-eight percent of those surveyed reported not having finished even a single book in the past year, though the average number of books read per person last year remained at fourteen. For a little more in moderation lit, here’s an essay from The Millions on reading fewer books.