Literary fame is a knotty thing. It’s hard to predict exactly who will be known for centuries, and why. William Wordsworth, for example, owes at least part of his fame to the Lake District, which started to use him in their tourist campaigns not long after his death. In The New Yorker, Joshua Rothman takes a look at H.J. Jackson’s Those Who Write for Immortality. Related: Gina Fattore’s recent essay on fame and money.
“For the first half of a new book, maybe you want your back against the wall. Gunslinger style. Nothing can sneak up on you except your own bad sentences,” Colson Whitehead said. He and four other authors discussed where they like to write in The New York Times. Bonus: See where our writers work.
What does it mean to be cool? According to scholar Joel Dinerstein, it means a person who conveys “relaxed intensity.” Using this definition, Dinerstein and Frank Goodyear III curated a photography exhibition of “American Cool” at National Portrait Gallery. The portraits feature everyone from Joan Didion to David Byrne.
Out this week: The Season of Migration by Nellie Hermann; Uncle Janice by Matt Burgess; The Secret Wisdom of the Earth by Christopher Scotton; Driving the King by Ravi Howard; Against the Country by Ben Metcalf; God Loves Haiti by Dimitry Elias Léger; A Pleasure and a Calling by Phil Hogan; Wildalone by Krassi Zourkova; and Almost Famous Women by Year in Reading alum Megan Mayhew Bergman. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great 2015 Book Preview.
“[I]t’s important that people begin to understand that whiteness is not inevitable, and that white dominance is not inevitable.” Claudia Rankine talks to The Guardian about her plans for the Racial Imaginary Institute, a think-tank-cum-gallery that she’s founding with all that MacArthur Genius cash. See also: why Americans love poetry, but not poetry books.