Ben Lerner, whose 10:04 has been reviewed in Bookforum and the New York Times, made an appearance on The New Directions blog to recommend four books of poetry that have at one point or another graced his nightstand. (No word on how he winnows down his list of books to be stacked on said nightstand, but our own Sonya Chung can offer advice.)
Gore Vidal has died at the age of 86. The prominent author, screenwriter, Norman Mailer-nemesis and political activist published 25 novels, two memoirs and many, many essay volumes in addition to plays, screenplays, and television scripts. For a time, he even loaned his own visage to the silver screen, as Mindy Hung recently pointed out on our site.
Biographer and novelist Penelope Fitzgerald of the Booker Prized novel Offshore, was born on this day in 1916. Ranked twenty-third on the London Times 2008 list of "Britain's Fifty Greatest Writers Since WWII," Fitzgerald didn't begin her twenty-year writing career until age fifty-eight. Can we say Post-40 Bloomer?
Peter Matthiessen died today, according to a statement released by his publisher: "Peter Matthiessen, award-winning author of more than thirty books, world-renowned naturalist, explorer, Buddhist teacher, and political activist, died at 5:15 PM on Saturday April 5, 2014 after an illness of some months." Matthiessen was the author most notably of two National Book Award-winning volumes, the novel Shadow Country and in non-fiction The Snow Leopard.
"By now, you are probably asking yourself, Did these two ever talk about anything serious? Of course, we did. We talked about how writing a poem is no different from taking out a frying pan and concocting a dish out of the ingredients available in the house, how in poetry, as in cooking, it’s all a matter of subtle little touches that come from long experience or are the result of sudden inspiration." Charles Simic writes movingly about his friend, the late poet Mark Strand, and their various schemes, from buying palazzos to founding a gastronomic poetry movement, for The New York Review of Books.
Our own Bruna Dantas Lobato reflects on her position living between languages. “I learned English out of necessity and that comes with its own problems—aesthetic and political ones. With childhood in one language and a writing life in the other, I’m standing both inside and outside my mother tongue and my stepmother tongue.” Pair with a piece on the important role of translators in literature.