Enlightenment comes in many guises, and though we usually think of it as arriving in a koi pond or a distant mountaintop, we can also find it, as the protagonist of Year in Reading alum Tom McCarthy’s new novel attempts to do, on Staten Island. In The New Republic, David Marcus reads the book.
“A coroner’s pronouncement of suicide (felo da se) resulted in forfeiture of the deceased’s goods and property to the state, often leaving any surviving relatives destitute. So the increasingly common verdict of temporary insanity (non compos mentis) may suggest a change in how people understood the act of self-destruction: no longer construed as a demonic temptation, it came instead to be viewed as a symptom of lunacy.” On the prevalence of suicide in eighteenth-century English literature.
One of the best parts of last month’s Cullman Center discussion between John Jeremiah Sullivan and Wells Tower was watching JJS carry on the conversation while sipping from a highball glass of whiskey. The essayist’s Southern roots and Irish ancestry of course make him no stranger to potent potables, which is why Danny Nowell’s “John Jeremiah Sullivan” cocktail is so appropriate.
The University of Texas at Austin has recently acquired Kazuo Ishiguro’s archive. The collection reveals early drafts, a pulp Western novel that Ishiguro thought had been lost, and his early attempts at songwriting. “For many years,” he said, “I’ve been in the habit of keeping a large cardboard box under my desk into which I throw, more or less indiscriminately, all papers produced during my writing that I don’t want to file neatly and take into the next stage of composition: earlier drafts of chapters, rejected pages, scraps of paper with scribbled thoughts, repeated attempts at the same paragraph, etc.”
Ferris Jabr writes for The New Yorker on the “profound relationship between walking, thinking, and writing,” and cites books such as Ulysses and Mrs. Dalloway as evidence this “curious link between mind and feet” is a serious literary force. After you’ve finished reading Jabr’s piece, be sure to check out Michelle Huneven‘s essay “On Walking and Reading at the Same Time,” and then perhaps go for a little stroll with a good book.
Congratulations to Millions contributor Lydia Kiesling whose thoughtful essay “Proust’s Arabesk: The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk” was named a finalist for the 3quarksdaily Arts & Literature Prize. And thanks to all the Millions readers who voted for our essays in the first round of the contest.