In a By Heart piece for The Atlantic, Harriet Lane writes about the “bleak precise nature” of Philip Larkin‘s poetry (what Stephen Akey called “The Poetry of Mental Unhealth” in a Millions review) and about the power inherent in writing fiction. “In my everyday life I have no control, really: who does? But on paper, I hold all the cards. Fiction provides you with a way to shape a world, to exert the kind of power and agency our real lives so often lack.”
Robert Roper wonders whether or not Ernest Hemingway's death has "eclipsed his work." Elsewhere, Melville House wonders whether or not the FBI had something to do with it. The author's influence is as apparent today as ever before, though perhaps it's not his death that endures, but rather his perceived masculine mystique.
“Eisenhower’s doctor, Howard McCrum Snyder, knew better than anyone that the commander in chief paid a heavy physical toll for the blandness he projected in public — and once had a presidential golf club thrown at him.” Janet Maslin reviews a new book on the “hidden” President.
“Almost as soon as the concept of the Great American Novel was invented, in the nation-building years after the Civil War, Buell finds it being mocked, noting that one observer dryly put it into the same category as ‘other great American things such as the great American sewing-machine, the great American public school, and the great American sleeping-car.’ It was enough of a cliché by 1880 for Henry James to refer to it with the acronym 'GAN,' which Buell employs throughout his book.” On the reigning gold standard for quality in American fiction. (Related: we asked nine experts their picks for the best American novel.)
"Say surrender. Say alabaster. Switchblade. / Honeysuckle. Goldenrod. Say autumn. / Say autumn despite the green in your eyes. Beauty despite / daylight. Say you’d kill for it. Unbreakable dawn / mounting in your throat. / My thrashing beneath you / like a sparrow stunned / with falling." Last week, Ocean Vuong published his newest collection, Night Sky With Exit Wounds. This week, it seems to be all anyone can talk about (because it's fantastic). Here's a piece from The New Yorker on Vuong and his designs for the English language.