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.'”
In memory of Peter Matthiessen, The Missouri Review has unlocked an interview with him from 1989. Matthiessen detailed the beginning of his writing career. “I started my first novel and sent off about four chapters and waited by the post office for praise to roll in, calls from Hollywood, everything. Finally my agent sent me a letter that said ‘Dear Peter, James Fenimore Cooper wrote this a hundred and fifty years ago, only he wrote it better. Yours, Bernice.’ I probably needed that; it was very healthy.” For more Matthiessen, you can read one of his best travel essays or his new novel, In Paradise.
“‘Moby Dick is one of my favorite books, but let’s face it — it’s a hot mess,’ says Evison. ‘If I had software that said, ‘Look, maybe this four-page essay on scrimshaw isn’t gonna fly with your 28 to 40 male [demographic],’ what would we have lost with that? Sometimes, you know, it’s just got to be a little bit of a dictatorship.'” When e-readers and marketing tactics collide.
“My sense, though, was that he was a very complicated man. He could enter a room and be the organizer of games and magic tricks and funny stories and a brilliant mimic and holding forth and entertaining and holding the center. But he was also incredibly controlling; he was domineering.” Ralph Fiennes on playing Charles Dickens.