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.”
Julia Child fans may enjoy a new collection of her correspondence with her friend and “unofficial literary agent” Avis DeVoto. The letters follow Child through her life overseas. Also out now is a snazzy new Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition of The Picture of Dorian Gray with a cover illustrated by Ruben Toledo.
David Roberts spent 12 hours in front of a screen everyday, frequently hit the daily tweet limit, and saw “every sunset as a potential Instagram.” So he decided to quit the internet for a year and lived to tell the tale for Outside. Yet disconnecting isn’t as easy as signing off Twitter. “One striking feature of the digital-self-help literature is that it treats distraction, overload, and frazzlement almost entirely as personal challenges. If you’re stressed out and unable to concentrate, you’re not enlightened enough. Meditate harder.” Pair with: What’s it like to be from the last generation to remember life before the internet and our own Edan Lepucki’s (slightly shorter) social media detox.
This week, Football Book Club is taking it to the next level: They’re reading Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts and posting about Allie Brosh’s Hyperbole and a Half. If you’re keeping score at home, that means this week is All Brosh, All the Time. Also, as per usual, they will not be watching the NFL and not liking it one bit.
My student and friend Paria Kooklan pens a guest piece at the Vroman’s Blog about the popularity of novels about Iran–and penning her own. “I mean, the American public has a short attention span – Iranians are hot right now, but I can’t help wondering when the trend is going to die out. Next year, there may well be another trendy nationality: Iraqis, maybe. Or Tibetans. Or…I don’t know – the Bhutanese? Anything is possible.”