Penelope Fitzgerald has been getting a lot of attention lately, largely due to Hermione Lee‘s newest biography. In an article for the Paris Review, Bridget Read considers the impact a better understanding of Fitzgerald’s life could have on her modern reputation, and argues that “it is not extraordinary that she became a prize-winning novelist, though you may have heard otherwise. … It is vital to emphasize that Fitzgerald’s novels were not achieved in spite of her domestic life; they were borne directly out of it. Her work is radical in that it suggests that, in fact, a feminine experience, a liminal experience, might be better equipped than a male one to address the contradictions of human existence taken up by the greatest literature.”
Even if you've already seen the outstanding documentary Wordplay, you'll still want to check out this Atlantic article on how Will Shortz makes his New York Times crossword puzzles.
In The New York Times, Dwight Garner reviews John Carey’s biography William Golding: The Man Who Wrote "Lord of the Flies”: “It may not be a surprise to learn that the British novelist ... did not have a happy childhood. But the details will put a sweat on your forehead.”
"[L]et’s not pull punches — misogyny has disfigured how Dickinson’s story is told. We’re missing out on a fierce mind when we reduce her to a spinster perseverating alone in her room writing poems to the ether." A new Emily Dickinson exhibition proves the poet wasn't nearly as much of a recluse as we've been led to think, writes Daniel Larkin for Hyperallergic. Pair with this piece on Paul Legault’s English-to-English translations of her poetry, which "transports Dickinson into mostly fortune-cookie length snippets of contemporary English, a dialect spoken widely in urban pockets like Brooklyn, where increasing numbers of the highly educated and literary classes live, procreate, keep each other amused, and make their own cheese."
My "10 Best Songs Based on Books" list, from yesterday's Observer (UK), is up on the Guardian's website. Obviously it's not so much the 10 Best as the 10 Best I could think of while writing the list, but that kind of equivocation makes for terribly unsnappy titles.
With the NCAA’s March Madness tournament winding down, and with The Morning News’s Tournament of Books drawn to a close, you can still indulge your bracketological yearnings by participating in Powell’s Books’s Poetry Madness or by checking out NPR’s Ides of March Madness.