“It’s not clear whether he really went mad or not, but he was admitted to St. Luke’s Hospital for Lunatics—an admirably blunt name, no?”— Frank Key writes about Christopher Smart, “an intimate of Samuel Johnson, James Boswell, and Henry Fielding” and an excellent cat poet, for the Public Domain Review.
If you read Lydia Kiesling’s recent piece about Granta’s Young British Novelists and thought to yourself, “That John Freeman guy sounds like a grand ol’ chap, but I think I could do his job better,” then I have two things to say: 1) That’s kind of a rude thing to think to yourself. And 2) You’re in luck, I guess, because he’s in need of a replacement.
“In Colombia, Mexico, Nigeria, Mozambique, it’s the real thing, not magic, and the only way to tell these stories.” Man Booker International Prize finalist Mia Couto discusses the label “magic realism,” the death of Cecil the lion, his new novel Confession of the Lioness – one of the most anticipated books of 2015, and post-civil war Mozambique. Pair with Philip Graham’s Millions essay on Couto’s fiction.
“Who am I in the face of the Universe if not just a bro who wants to get stuff done?” Tim Goessling tried living a day according to Benjamin Franklin’s schedule listed in The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. What was his biggest takeaway? We should self-evaluate and set goals more.
“Charles Dickens had orphanages and workhouses, the Brontë sisters had the wild moors, and modern writers have high school.” So begins L.A. Times television critic Mary McNamara‘s take on The Vampire Diaries, the CW’s answer to Twilight (premiering tonight at 8). The show is loosely based on L.J. Smith‘s books of the same name and McNamara gives it a qualified thumbs up. She concludes that this latest addition to the vampire canon is “pure froth, but it is very welcome froth, especially in a genre that seems sometimes in danger of taking itself a little too seriously.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates wants to make America less stupid about the Civil War. He recommends five books we should all read to gain a better understanding of American history during this war and assures us that “I’ve tried to think very hard about readability, and to offer books you might actually complete.” So no excuses, start here
Matthew Stadler of Publication Studio hits NYC on his NAFTA tour just in time for the 4th of July weekend. The Saturday evening begins with a ghost tour of sorts, of the city’s “disappeared bookstores,” and a lavish Mexican dinner will follow. If the feasts in Stadler’s latest novel, Chloe Jarren’s La Cucaracha, are any indication, expect copious cocktails and intriguing conversations. More details here.