Ralph Waldo Emerson called him “the jingle-man.” Henry James called his work “decidedly primitive.” Yet Edgar Allan Poe, nearly two centuries after his death, is now acclaimed as a writer on par with his best contemporaries. How did his reputation evolve? In the Times Literary Supplement, Marjorie Perloff reviews a new study of Poe by Jerome McGann.
The Believer posts a 2003 essay featuring Donald Barthelme’s reading list, which came secondhand to Kevin Moffett, a self-professed non-reader: “Barthelme’s only guidance, passed on by Padgett Powell, one of Barthelme’s former students at the University of Houston and my teacher at the time, was to attack the books ‘in no particular order, just read them,’ which is exactly what I, in my confident illiteracy, resolved to do.” (via The Paris Review)
In her short history of executioners, Stassa Edwards notes that the decision to replace “the traditional punishment” of drowning people “in a sack in a local river” was actually quite pragmatic: it was “more economical” to go with a simple beheading.
Cairo bookstore Bab Aldonia has installed a soundproof room for its customers in which, MobyLives reports, “anyone can go and scream in privacy for ten minutes at a time.” An unsigned piece on the online magazine Cairoscene notes that working out one’s frustrations within the safety of its walls “may prove just as effective as regime change.” The stakes are considerably lower, but if you’re a fan of indie booksellers, you’ll also enjoy our piece about bookstores we have known, loved, and worked for.