New this week: Stone Mattress: Nine Tales by Margaret Atwood; The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters; My Life as a Foreign Country by Brian Turner; Wallflowers by Eliza Robertson; On Bittersweet Place by Ronna Wineberg; Love Me Back by Merritt Tierce; In the Red by Elena Mauli Shapiro; and Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-half 2014 Book Preview.
“Summer morning is risen / and to even it wends / and still I’m in prison / without any friends.” Start your Monday off right with this piece from The Paris Review on John Clare, Christopher Smart, and the poetry of the asylum. Speaking of the madhouse, here’s a piece on Anne Sexton and her book Transformations.
“Since the middle of the 20th century, the academy has conditioned us to stay grounded within texts and steer clear of writers’ biographies for insights while biographers are often timid about the kind of playful speculation that we can undertake here in Slate. Readers, myself included, tend to wonder about the sources for characters the likes of Kurtz, Sherlock Holmes, and Jay Gatsby—larger-than-life, mysterious, existing on a kind of separate plane—and in doing so we are continuing the quests of the narrators who tried first (Marlow, Watson, and Carraway).” Matthew Pearl asks: was Robert Louis Stevenson the blueprint for Conrad‘s Kurtz?
Mexican novelist and part-time literary prankster Mario Bellatin is up to his old tricks again. This time, the one-armed author/provocateur has decided to wage war against his own publisher. Bellatin claims the twentieth anniversary edition of his classic Beauty Salon was published too early and without his express consent–a brief “coda from the author” was included which Bellatin insists was nothing but a draft in progress. As such, he has been urging fans not to purchase his book.
“LET THERE BE stress. Let the body respond to stress as it does to injury and infection. Let stress be a vulture that pecks at the mind and devours the body. This will make people less likely to be stressed. When they see stress wreak wrath upon the body, they will surely calm down a lot.” It seems the big problem with intelligent design is that it had a pretty sub-par peer review.