How did Herman Melville’s friendship with Nathaniel Hawthorne affect the writing of Moby-Dick? It’s a hard question to answer with any certainty, but Patrick James Dunagan gives it a shot, drawing evidence from Erik Hage’s book on the authors’ relationship. You could also read Hester Blum’s argument that Moby-Dick is the greatest American novel.
Did our interview with Hilary Mantel yesterday pique your interest in her latest book? The Times has an excerpt you can read. Elsewhere, Damian Barr (who conducted the interview) pens a response to Lord Bell, who recently suggested that Scotland Yard should investigate Mantel for criminal intent.
“Puzzled as to why her mother had not figured out “Miriam” on her own — or why, after Capote became famous, she did not say much about her letter and his answer — Ms. Akers sought clues.” The New York Times writes about recently discovered letter from Truman Capote to a young reader who misunderstood his first published story. Read our own Michael Bourne on the tragedy of Capote’s life.
Wes Anderson’s latest movie sparked a minor literary revival after it came out that much of it was based on the works of Stefan Zweig. Jason Diamond argued that Zweig may finally be getting the due he deserves in America. At the LARB, Tara Isabella Burton reads the author’s collected stories.
I’ve written before about Literary Enemies, a series at the Ploughshares blog in which two writers are shown to have opposing sensibilities. This week, Lily Meyer argues that Flannery O’Connor and Marilynne Robinson are a worthy addition to the series, as the former contracts narrative space and the latter expands it. Sample quote: “It seems to me that Marilynne Robinson’s project, in her books suffused with Protestant belief, has nothing to do with Jesus or with God.”
In his inaugural column for The New York Times Magazine, former New York Magazine critic Sam Anderson expands upon the idea he shared with us in his “Year in Marginalia,” his riff on our big Year in Reading series. And, as a sidebar to Anderson’s column, the Magazine has published a brief excerpt of John Brandon’s compelling essay from The Late American Novel: Writers on the Future of Books (perhaps you’ve heard that title mentioned around here lately?)