In 1817, the painter Robert Benjamin Haydon invited several guests over for what he called an “immortal dinner.” Why the bombastic name? The guests included Keats and Wordsworth, whom Haydon wished to introduce to each other. In the WaPo, Michael Dirda takes a look at The Immortal Evening, a new book about the event by Stanley Plumly.
“Now, I’m not going to lie. It’s annoying, to have to take time out of my incredibly busy writing schedule in order to spell it all out for young people, just because they spend most of their daylight hours being urged by hoary old theorists in threadbare sweaters to write experimental fiction that will never sell. But I care deeply about the young—all of them, the world’s young—so of course I am humbled and honored to share the trade secrets embedded in my rigorous daily work schedule.” Heather Havrilesky on her writing life.
Ralph Waldo Emerson called him “the jingle-man.” Henry James called his work “decidedly primitive.” Yet Edgar Allan Poe, nearly two centuries after his death, is now acclaimed as a writer on par with his best contemporaries. How did his reputation evolve? In the Times Literary Supplement, Marjorie Perloff reviews a new study of Poe by Jerome McGann.
As we mourn the loss of Anthony Bourdain, the Los Angeles Times remembers his impact on the literary world and the ways in which the literary establishment wanted him to ‘shape up’. A well-read chef and writer, Bourdain’s most well-known book was Kitchen Confidential. Pair with this essay on food writing.
“Most writers … don’t ask questions of a journalist,” writes How to Read a Novelist author John Freeman. But what of those that do? Over the course of a fifteen year career, Freeman has found that “what the novelists asked of me told me [a great deal] about them,” and that a big problem with the standard format for author interviews, after all, is that “the conventions of the interview deprive us of one thing a novelist does quite a bit, which is ask questions.” (Bonus: Freeman will be in conversation with Jennifer Egan Thursday night at McNally Jackson.)