Maya Angelou is a rapper now. The late writer’s poems have been layered with hip-hop beats for a new album, Caged Bird Songs. The album uses previous recordings of Angelou and a few made last year. “She saw (hip-hop) as this generation’s way of speaking and conveying a message,” her grandson Colin A. Johnson said. Pair with: Our tribute to Angelou.
“The Terminal C Baja Fresh sign gleams like living flame. I feast. The salsa bar is limitless. The refills overflow. I browse John Grisham courthouse thrillers within Hudson Booksellers for 15 minutes… or was it a millennia? Time is a breath to me now.” Jeff Loveness for McSweeney’s is TSA PreCheck, and now he is a God.
At The New Republic, Andrew Wylie talks about how he made millions off strictly “highbrow” fiction, a category which (for those who are curious) does not include the works of James Michener and the late Tom Clancy. Wylie — whose clients include Philip Roth, Martin Amis and Mary Gaitskill — suggests that a modern literary agency “needs to be able to expand infinitely, like a Borgesian library.”
New this week is Jonathan Evison’s West of Here, Joyce Carol Oates’ memoir A Widow’s Story about the death of her husband (this was the source of her recent, quite moving essay in the New Yorker), and the expanded rerelease of Alexander Theroux’s The Strange Case of Edward Gorey. Also new on shelves from NYRB Classics is Irretrievable by Theodor Fontane, with an introduction by Phillip Lopate, who discussed Fontane in our Year in Reading in December.
In 1979, William Gaddis taught a course at Bard College on “The Literature of Failure,” examining works that somehow focused on personal failure or insufficiency. These included, among other books, Joan Didion’s Play It as It Lays, as well as Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. In Bookforum, Casey Michael Henry takes on a related genre: the literature of obsolescence. You could also read James Cappio on meeting Gaddis in person.
Recommended Reading: Kavita Das on why writers shouldn’t romanticize rejection. “Not only is it harder for writers of color to get published, but when rejecting our work, publishers tell us that what we’re writing about is too narrow and niche and won’t appeal to mainstream audiences.” Our own Bill Morris writes about the sorry state of rejection letters and literary magazine editors take your questions about them.