On the topic of reading classics: Alberto Manguel at the New York Review of Books considers the dialogue across history that books afford. “The relationship between a reader and a book… eliminates the barriers of time and space, like ‘conversations with the dead.'”
"A neck cannot be modern. A neck is in time, belongs to time, but is not formed by it. My guess is that even photos of Neanderthal necks would not differ significantly... [They are] in a certain sense, pure nature. Something that grows in a certain place, the way tree trunks grow, or mussels, fungi, moss." Recommended reading: Karl Ove Knausgaard on the sanctity of bodies, the nature of truth, and the back of the neck. The third volume of Knausgaard's bestselling My Struggle hit American bookshelves last week. (Check out our own review of Knausgaard's previous volumes.)
Philip Roth may have retired, but that doesn’t mean he’s done giving interviews. The author recently sat down with the editor of a Swedish newspaper, who talked with him about misogyny, Sabbath’s Theater and the need for “obstinacy” in a writer. (Related: our own Hannah Gersen reviewed Roth Unbound.) (h/t The Paris Review)
"How can you write a complete story without a conventional plot? We often hear that in short stories, the main character must change. But in some stories, including some by Grace Paley, the characters don’t change. Instead, her stories change the reader. You’re different by the time you reach the end." We've told you about The Atlantic's "By Heart" series plenty of times before. This week, it's Alice Mattison, who touches on everything from character development to the strange stories of Grace Paley.
According to the title of Matt Steinglass' new essay (a qualified rebuttal of Katie Roiphe's recent piece "The Naked and the Conflicted"), "Today's Male Novelists Do Write Exuberant Sex Scenes, But Mostly Lesbian Ones"
“There are dangers for an artist in any academic environment,” says former Poetry editor Christian Wiman, who now teaches at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music. “Academia rewards people who know their own minds and have developed an ironclad confidence in speaking them. That kind of assurance is death for an artist.”