“The story that Lee’s book tells (or tries to tell, because much evidence has been obscured or lost) is not about patience on a monument but about talent buried under a heavy plinth, and discovered only just in time—the late achievement less a measured distillation than a lifesaving decoction.” James Wood reviews Hermione Lee‘s new biography of novelist Penelope Fitzgerald for The New Yorker. Pair with Niamh Ni Mhaoileoin‘s Millions essay on the new age of biography.
The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them, the forthcoming debut effort by sometime Millions contributor Elif Batuman, gets an intriguing write-up in Publishers Weekly.
“It’s a critical dilemma in my reading and writing but also a real-life dilemma in a family like mine, with Alzheimer’s in our genes: How do you locate the personhood in someone who is, for neurobiological reasons, no longer the person you knew? Is there a way to be true to medical fact and still find something that is transcendently human?” Stefan Merrill Block writes about the literature of Alzheimer’s and Matthew Thomas‘s We Are Not Ourselves, which Lisa Peet reviewed for The Millions.
“We all use a ‘persona’ or mask, to some degree, all the time,” writes poet Robert Pinsky as he challenges the notion—widely held in English classes throughout the world—that a poem’s “speaker” is necessarily separate from a poem’s author. The latest release from Pinsky, the former Poet Laureate of the United States, is Selected Poems, and you can hear him read some excerpts in this video.