“Your shipment of personal copies will never arrive. Your publisher will not be able to track their fate, nor replace them. A week will pass and you will wander into the animal shelter at a nearby strip mall and find a dog cage lined with the urine-soaked pages of your book. Your eyes will meet the eyes of the miniature schnauzer that resides in your shredded work. You’ll think: this is fate. But the adoption center won’t approve your application because you can’t claim any substantial income.” Electric Literature has compiled the “The Ten Ways Your Life Will Change After You Publish Your First Book,” so you can’t say you weren’t warned.
In a Simpsons episode from the late nineties, Lisa Simpson, concerned that her mental skills may be deteriorating, manages to finagle her way onto a local TV news broadcast, where she urges the residents of Springfield to read two books: To Kill a Mockingbird and Harriet the Spy. At first glance, the two novels might not seem to have that much in common, but as Anna Holmes argues in a blog post for The New Yorker, the books share “ideas about the complexity, sophistication, and occasional wickedness of young girls’ imaginations.” (You could also read our own Garth Risk Hallberg on Malcolm Gladwell and To Kill a Mockingbird.)
Blue Ivy was the one who made the headlines, but she's not the only Beyoncé Knowles story this week. Australian researcher Bryan Lessard has paid tribute to the singer by incorporating her name into the binomial nomenclature of an extremely rare horse fly. When asked why he did this, Lennard responded that the fly's gold-colored abdomen made it "the all time diva of flies."
Happy(ish) birthday, Gregor Samsa! Here’s a piece from NPR commemorating the 100th anniversary of the publication of Franz Kafka’s masterpiece, The Metamorphosis. Kafka insisted that the story's insect should never be drawn, but of course Vladimir Nabokov had his own ideas about that. To round out the Kafka news, here’s a review from The Millions of Reiner Stach’s Kafka: The Decisive Years.
"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.
"It is the persistent, damning mischaracterisation of Zelda as 'insane' that most needs undoing. The trouble lies in the diagnosis she was given in 1930: 'schizophrenia'. While today we know it to mean severe mental illness requiring delicate and often lifelong treatment with medications, therapies, and sometimes institutionalisation, in Zelda’s time it was a catch-all label for a range of emotional difficulties." Reexamining the life and reputation of Zelda Fitzgerald.