For the most part, your average writer’s retreat is a pretty cushy place. Its amenities are designed to let its guests turn their energies to the difficulties of artistic work. At The Paris Review Daily, Rex Weiner writes a dispatch from a different sort of retreat — a haunted house for writers in Mexico. To read about a more traditional experience, check out our own Michael Bourne on his time at Bread Loaf.
One of the best parts of last month’s Cullman Center discussion between John Jeremiah Sullivan and Wells Tower was watching JJS carry on the conversation while sipping from a highball glass of whiskey. The essayist’s Southern roots and Irish ancestry of course make him no stranger to potent potables, which is why Danny Nowell’s “John Jeremiah Sullivan” cocktail is so appropriate.
Fans of Moby-Dick should read Nathaniel Philbrick’s outstanding historical account In the Heart of the Sea. The book, which tracks the fate of The Essex, a New England whaling vessel sunk by a humongous sperm whale in the South Pacific, is vivid and harrowing. It’s also, as it turns out, only one of the naval catastrophes to befall George Pollard, Jr., The Essex‘s captain: a second wreck of his was recently located off the coast of Hawaii.
For close to two decades now, the Rona Jaffe Foundation has honored “women writers of exceptional talent in the early stages of their careers” with annual Writers’ Awards worth $30,000 each. This year, the winners are Tiffany Briere (fiction/nonfiction); Ashlee Crews (fiction); Kristen Dombek (nonfiction); Margaree Little (poetry); Kirsten Valdez Quade (fiction); and Jill Sisson Quinn (nonfiction). The winners accepted their awards in a private ceremony on the 19th.