Recommended reading: Rachel Kushner writes about the Costa Concordia disaster, cruise ships in general, and her own short-lived “aspiration to spend time at sea as requisite literary training” for The London Review of Books.
“To say that late Victorian poetry is bleak would be akin to remarking that Wilkie Collins had a decent knack for plotting a novel. These poems are freighted with Gothic overtones, and it is not uncommon for some supernatural phenomenon to intrude upon what had started out as a seemingly harmless quatrain. We often encounter Death himself—or the Devil—who is something of a literary celebrity for the decadent poets. But what marks the best of these poems is that the outré is in service to something that we can think of as more desperate, and, wouldn’t you know, human.” Over at The Boston Review, an online-only essay looking at the peculiarities of Victorian decadent poetry.
Michael Wolff’s palace intrigue book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump Whitehouse has dominated the news cycle this week. After receiving a cease-and-desist letter, publisher Henry Holt and Co. responded by pushing the publication date up four days. Currently #1 on Amazon’s Bestseller list, many independent booksellers say they have sold all their copies as well.
If you thought the English language went downhill when the emoticon was introduced, you can blame a 17th-century poet. Editor Levi Stahl found that English poet Robert Herrick used the first emoticon in his 1648 poem “To Fortune.” As Herrick writes, “Tumble me down, and I will sit/ Upon my ruines (smiling yet :)” For more on the potential ruin of language, read Fiona Maazel’s piece on commercial grammar.
Jonathan Lee, whose novel High Dive was published this week, writes about the “deep disquiet” of finishing your book. “There are lots of books on how to write, and lots of books on how to publish, but I’ve spent the last few weeks looking for a book with a title like How To Get Through The Period Between Finishing A Book and Seeing It In A Bookstore Without Losing Your Entire Grip on Reality. I have failed to find it.”