Nabokov played (and frequently wrote about) chess; J.K. Rowling plays Minecraft, though it has yet to appear in any kind of Harry Potter spin-off. And why shouldn’t she? After all, “there’s a long tradition of other authors turning to a variety of such games – mostly as light relief from their vocation, but also sometimes finding writerly inspiration.”
Poet and essayist Adrienne Rich passed way this afternoon at the age of 82, the LA Times confirms. Her influence on writing and activism is immeasurable, and this is a sad day of all of literature. The Poetry Foundation’s short biography of the poet is not to be missed, and nor are her poems “Final Notions,” and “For the Dead.”
How has a spirit legally defined as being “without distinctive character, aroma, taste, or color” flourished in today’s economic climate? Victorino Matus‘ Weekly Standard article explores the history and ubiquity of vodka. Perhaps this article is best paired with something from NPR‘s list of “Great American Writers and Their Cocktails.”
Laila Lalami recently wrote about “How History Becomes Story,” but writing an interesting and compelling history book sans fiction has its own challenges. Thankfully S.C. Gwynne offers some tips in a piece for the History News Network, including the hard-hitting reminder that “it is your job to force your facts into narrative form.”
Out this week: The Novel: An Alternative History by Steven Moore; Claire of the Sea Light by Edwidge Danticat; F, a new book of poems by Franz Wright; and The Affairs of Others by Amy Grace Loyd, which Katie Rogin reviewed for us last week. For more on these and other interesting titles, go read our Great Second-Half 2013 Book Preview.
The Iowa Writers’ Workshop turns 75 this year. To celebrate, a number of alumni are writing essays on their experiences for various blogs (as well as ours!) as part of The 75th Project. At The Los Angeles Review of Books, Kevin Brockmeier has comprised “A Chronological List of Statements People Made to Me at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, 1995-1997.” Additionally, Joyelle McSweeney has a piece on n+1‘s website entitled “Iowa Occult: a Mütter Pedagogy; Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying & Vomit Art.”
“The repetitions, the ellipses, the onomatopoeia: All the markers of Wolfe’s stylistic DNA were adaptive mutations to a competitive climate, search-engine optimization for the typewriter age.” Here’s an interview with Tom Wolfe about his new novel, Back to Blood, which is receiving mixed reviews.