Though it’s long been known as the gentleman’s sport, tennis seems to be slipping a little bit in its cultural refinement. Melville House has a blog post on the reading habits of elite players, and they’re spotty at best, though Dostoyevsky, Nietzsche and Camus are all mentioned, as are J.K. Rowling, Tolkien and, simply, “newspapers.”
Here’s a fact that’s either very surprising or not surprising at all: Samuel Beckett didn’t want his letters to see the light of day. He once wrote to Barney Rosset that he didn’t care for “the ventilation of private documents.” Despite this disinclination, his third volume of letters comes out this week, and it includes, as detailed by John Banville in a review for The Irish Times, a letter in which Beckett asks that none of his plays be produced in Ireland. Pair with: our own Matt Seidel on Beckett’s “Echo’s Bones.”
Michael Lewis gave the 2012 Baccalaureate Address at Princeton University this year, and used his time to speak about life experience, the strange paths we take after graduation, and everyone’s “debt to the unlucky.” You can watch the speech here, or you can read the transcript here.
“Joy and wonder. That’s at the heart of what I love about the natural world. If you’re receptive to it, it does something to human minds that nothing else can do.” Electric Literature talks with Helen MacDonald about living with, and like, a goshawk. Pair with Madeleine Larue‘s Millions review of MacDonald’s H is for Hawk.
“I had dreams about tornadoes. I dreamed of houses collapsing, people searching through rubble for dead bodies. Most of these dreams involved watching a large tornado in a field as it moved directly toward me. Like the scene early in the film The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy looks out the window and sees the tornado approaching, that sense of doom is always present in my dreams.” At the Paris Review Daily, Brandon Hobson reflects on a lifelong fear of bad weather.
“I have a theory: the thing that makes you a unique writer hasn’t got so much to do with your influences as it does with how you became a writer in the first place. I think your preferences—your obsessions—come just as much from the first sorts of things you consumed and were passionate about. Whether that’s pop music, comics, “lowbrow” fiction, soap operas, or anything else, the thing that matters most is what started you writing stories.” Amber Sparks writes about “lowbrow” influences and the many paths to becoming a storyteller in an essay for Electric Literature.