Moby-Dick is a quintessential Great American Novel, perhaps even the greatest, but it might not be pure fiction. That’s what George Dobbs argues in a piece on “The Real Life Inspirations Behind Moby-Dick” for The Airship. Invention or not, at least we can be thankful no cannibalism sneaked its way onto the Pequod…
Fifty years ago, Frank O’Hara released Lunch Poems, a collection of remarkably informal poetry that rebuked the more academic verse of his day. As a tribute, Dwight Garner writes about the importance of the book in the Times, arguing that O’Hara’s grasp of the zeitgeist is the reason he appeared on Mad Men. For more on the poet’s legacy, take a look at Christopher Richards on O’Hara’s lessons for being gay.
“John Milton—poet, free speech advocate, civil servant, classics scholar—was arguably a forefather to Asimov, Bradbury, Delaney, and the rest. Their outlandish other worlds owe a debt to his visionary mode of storytelling; their romance—characters who go on quests, encounter adversaries at portals, channel the forces of light and dark—is his, too.” Over at Slate, Katy Waldman makes the argument for Milton as sci-fi author. Pair with our discussion of his epic Paradise Lost as part of this piece about difficult books.
Just about every review of Virginia Zaharieva’s Nine Rabbits calls attention to its “narrative virtuosity” and the way it “packs several genres into one.” That might sound like empty praise until you check out this excerpt for yourself, and see that the book is not only a memoir, and a coming-of-age story, but it’s also a cookbook.
Remember when Little Red Riding Hood was eaten by a hyena? Wait, that’s not the folktale we know. Whether or not Little Red Riding Hood gets eaten depends on where you hear the famous folktale, but anthropologist Jamie Tehrani discovered the origins of the scarlet-hooded girl — Belgium.