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.”
“He taught me that poetry can be anything and with that comes great freedom.” Reminiscences by a former student of the poet John Ashbery upon his death. And for a contemporary take on the question of just what, exactly, poetry is and/or might be, see our recent conversation between Jill Bialosky and Matthew Zapruder.
Lord Byron is perhaps our most prominent example of an extravagant writer in a bygone age. There’s a reason his antics earned him a popular adjective. However, he’s not the only writer from long ago to live large, as made clear in this New Yorker piece by Elizabeth Kolbert — inspired by the release of two new biographies — that deals with the up-and-down life and reputation of Seneca. Sample quote: “Seneca’s fortune made possible a life style that was lavish by Roman or, for that matter, Hollywood standards.”
“Perhaps no part of the First Novel Experience is as confusing and overwhelming as figuring out how to balance the demands of social media with the demands of writing more fiction.” Martha Woodroof talks with Lydia Netzer about social media in the world of publishing and book promotion. Their advice? “Try to be funny as much as you can. Try to participate in conversations, not just start your own. Try to engage, not just talk.”
The practice of naming children after a dead sibling was surprisingly common up until the late-nineteenth century–Salvador Dali, Ludwig Van Beethoven, and Vincent Van Gogh were each “necroynms,” or the second of their name. Jeannie Vasco’s essay for The Believer on necronyms and grief is perfect to read alongside this essay for The Millions by Chloe Benjamin on naming not humans, but novels.