“When it comes to the personal essay, we want so much and there is something cannibalistic about our desire. We want essayists to splay themselves bare. We want to see how much they are willing to bleed for us. This desire introduces an interesting tension for essay writers. How much should they bleed, and how much blood should they save for themselves?” Roxane Gay reviews Meghan Daum‘s The Unspeakable and reflects on the personal essay for The New York Times Book Review. Pair with our own Hannah Gersen‘s Millions review of the same book.
He’s the world’s most wanted fugitive, yet somehow the man wearing the red-striped shirt and nerd glasses escaped us until now. Yes, we’re talking about Where’s Waldo? At Slate, Ben Blatt found Waldo’s pattern, so you can spot him every time and impress your relatives this holiday season.
George Saunders stopped by the Dinner Party podcast to dole out advice on topics ranging from constructing poems about wolves “making love,” dealing with a friend who’s been fired, sober-drunk relations, and “man purses.”
Jack Gilbert died yesterday at the age of 87. Gilbert was the author of five standalone poetry collections—as well as additional collected volumes such as last March’s Collected Poems—and he was also a past winner of a National Book Critics Circle Award. For The LA Times, John Penner reviews the poet’s legacy. Or, perhaps as fitting tribute to Gilbert’s life and work, better to hear his own final lines to the poem “Failing and Flying”: “I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell, / but just coming to the end of his triumph.”
After Herzog came out, Saul Bellow began the slow transformation from young Bellow into old Bellow, from the critically adored but little-known writer to the Nobel Prize winner whose views were solicited on every topic. In The New Yorker, Louis Menand writes about a new biography of the author, which tackles his early career. Related: our own Emily St. John Mandel on Bellow’s novel The Bellarosa Connection.
Despite recently winning the Booker Prize, Howard Jacobson writes a list of his favorite novels about failure for the WSJ: “This category is, of necessity, a crowded one. Novelists are drawn to failure. Those who prosper, or expect to prosper, in the world as it is have no need to re-imagine it.”