In the late seventies, when Susan Sontag was recovering from cancer, she hired an assistant to help her catch up on correspondence. Her editor recommended Sigrid Nunez, who began working for Sontag and ended up moving in with her. Nunez now recalls the experience with a mixture of gratitude and pain. In Dissent, a look at the economy of creative assistants.
This week in beautiful books: Eugène Delacroix once illustrated Goethe’s Faust, and Goethe himself claimed the resulting lithographs “surpassed my own vision.” A full version of the work is now available online. And in a slightly more light-hearted vein, English Russia has found and scanned a delightful Soviet version of The Hobbit, complete with a Gollum straight out of Dr. Seuss.
Recommended Reading: Kate Sweeney explores the business of environmentally-minded deep sea burial, which is offered by companies such as Georgia’s Eternal Reefs.
“What I want to know is, since when does making art require participation in any community, beyond the intense participation that the art itself is undertaking? Since when am I not contributing to the community if all I want to do is make the art itself?” Meghan Tifft gives voice to the struggle of the introverted writer in an essay for The Atlantic.
Haruki Murakami’s latest (which we reviewed) is out this week, as is a new edition of Augustus, the 1973 National Book Award winner by Stoner author John Williams. Also out: Friendswood by Rene Steinke; The Lotus and the Storm by Lan Cao; Before, During, After by Richard Bausch; The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan; and Your Face In Mine by Jess Row (which I wrote about for our Great Second-half 2014 Book Preview).
“We are hermits, that is true. We live in tiny rooms, and we stay in those rooms hours upon hours every day, every month, every year. But we also like to walk around and throw ourselves into big crates of tomatoes, and roll around in them, and then get up all tomato-stained.” Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera talks about living life as a poet (which apparently includes a lot of tomatoes) in an interview with the Guardian.