“Mr. Walt Whitman has imagined that a certain amount of violent sympathy with the great deeds and sufferings of our soldiers, and of admiration for our national energy, together with a ready command of picturesque language, are sufficient inspiration for a poet. If this were the case, we had been a nation of poets.” A young Henry James reviews Whitman’s Drum Taps.
In response to the Bookends question, “What is the Best Portrayal of a Marriage in Literature?,” Year in Reading alum Leslie Jamison writes movingly about the poetry of Jack Gilbert and concludes that “this is marriage: not knowing one’s wife but constantly relearning her, not possessing her but rediscovering her, constantly finding a new beloved within the already familiar spouse.” For a slightly different perspective on marriage in literature, look no further than our own Matt Seidel‘s “Survey of Literature’s Non-Traditional Marriage Proposals.”
When you think “Franz Kafka,” it typically isn’t his sunny disposition that comes to mind. According to Reiner Stach, this new collection of ephemera, however, seeks to challenge the tired, old conception of Kafka-as-tortured neurotic. Here’s a Millions review of Stach’s twin biographies of Kafka, himself.
The 1.5 million people who live in the Bronx lack a general interest bookstore, classifying their borough as one of a growing number of “book deserts” across the country. To combat this trend, the National Book Foundation just launched “The Book Rich Environment Initiative.” Meanwhile, Juma’a Ali runs a popular bookshop in a UN-administered refugee camp near the South Sudanese city of Malakal.
The thing about Dave Chappelle, writes Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah in her marvelous essay on the comedian’s family history, the success of Chappelle’s Show, and how the two informed his opinions on race, “is that he was suddenly vaulted into the awkward position of being the world’s most famous interlocutor in a conversation about race—the one conversation no one likes having.” In light of his recent heckling in Connecticut, as well as the continued misinterpretation of his comedy, “it’s easy to understand why Chappelle was done with being misread, tired of explaining, [and so he] finished talking.”