“Shelley once called poets the ‘unacknowledged legislators of the world,'” but has the social role of poetry changed since Shelley’s time?
"Do you know the philosopher Slavoj Žižek?" asks John Jeremiah Sullivan in his interview for the LA Review of Books. "He has this thing about love, the evil of love, and he says, I really don’t like love, because what love says is: I pick you out from everything, and I’m going to give you special attention, meaning that everything else is denigrated, and he says there’s something a little evil in that, and in the same way I think that there something a little philistine about lists."
It exists! The long-lost letter from Neal Cassady that inspired Jack Kerouac to write On the Road will be auctioned next month at Christies, ending an 18-month-long battle over its ownership and another 60-year-long battle over its existence. As Kerouac said, "It was the greatest piece of writing I ever saw, better’n anybody in America, or at least enough to make Melville, Twain, Dreiser, Wolfe, I dunno who, spin in their graves."
At Bookforum, Rebecca Donner talks with former Granta editor John Freeman about his new book of interviews, How to Read a Novelist. Freeman says that he enjoys interviewing writers in their homes because it allows him to observe them more closely: “The writer thinks you're taking notes about what he's saying, but you're really writing, ‘His head looks like a lion's head.’”
“Writers such as Gary Lutz, Diane Williams, Christine Schutt, and Noy Holland palpably employ, in somewhat different but observable ways, the strategy [Gordon] Lish calls ‘consecution,’ the focus on constructing and linking sentences by considering sound and rhythm as well as sense.” At Full-Stop, Daniel Green examines the editor's influence in a piece on Noy Holland’s new book.