“By now, you are probably asking yourself, Did these two ever talk about anything serious? Of course, we did. We talked about how writing a poem is no different from taking out a frying pan and concocting a dish out of the ingredients available in the house, how in poetry, as in cooking, it’s all a matter of subtle little touches that come from long experience or are the result of sudden inspiration.” Charles Simic writes movingly about his friend, the late poet Mark Strand, and their various schemes, from buying palazzos to founding a gastronomic poetry movement, for The New York Review of Books.
“That has always been the unsettling irony of the carefree aesthetic. Rhetorically, it denies the full unpredictability of black experiences in America. It is a stereotype, albeit one intended for benevolence and created, perhaps lovingly, by black people.” Doreen St. Félix writes about the roots and ramifications of the “Carefree Black Boy” phenomenon.
You’ve read Elif Batuman’s dissertation on the double-entry book-keeping of novelists (pdf), but now your “debit” balance is low. (Whose isn’t these days?) Enter Sheila Heti and Misha Glouberman. They can document your very essence. The Paris Review has an excerpt from The Chairs Are Where the People Go.
“[L]overs of more experimental books showed the ability to see things from different perspectives but it was comedy fans who scored the highest for relating to others.” A new study suggests that people who read books are nicer, reports The Independent. In our recent interview with author John Vaillant he wholly agreed. “Empathy is what gives you the access,” he told us. “I see the writer (fiction or nonfiction) as a kind of permeable membrane through which the thoughts, feelings, and experiences of others can pass and manifest.”
Well-Read Black Girl, a Brooklyn-based book club and online community celebrating “the uniqueness of Black literature & sisterhood,” has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund its inaugural writers’ conference and festival. Past WRBG book club guests include Year in Reading alums Jacqueline Woodson and Angela Flournoy, whom we also interviewed about her debut novel The Turner House.
“Since the middle of the 20th century, the academy has conditioned us to stay grounded within texts and steer clear of writers’ biographies for insights while biographers are often timid about the kind of playful speculation that we can undertake here in Slate. Readers, myself included, tend to wonder about the sources for characters the likes of Kurtz, Sherlock Holmes, and Jay Gatsby—larger-than-life, mysterious, existing on a kind of separate plane—and in doing so we are continuing the quests of the narrators who tried first (Marlow, Watson, and Carraway).” Matthew Pearl asks: was Robert Louis Stevenson the blueprint for Conrad‘s Kurtz?