Last week, I pointed readers to a recording of Benedict Cumberbatch on BBC Radio, reading Kafka’s Metamorphosis. Over at Slate, Rebecca Schuman explains why Cumberbatch is the story’s ideal reader, unpacking his “withering, perfectly enunciated deadpan.”
Pacific Standards profiles Ken Layne who quietly started the popular quarterly literary magazine, Desert Oracle for a town of 8,000 people. Now it has gained far more readers than that as it highlights works related to the American desert. “The reason that the Oracle works is that it’s always trying to elicit that feeling, the awe and wonder that the desert reveals to you when you listen hard enough. Layne believes it’s not an accident that religious awakenings, UFO sightings, walkabouts, and other revelations occur in the desert. It’s a consequence of solitude, stark beauty, and the tenacious life that only the desert has.”
The Washington Post discusses the literary pedigree of the town where I was born, went to college, and got married.A good review of Jonathan Lethem’s new collection of essays, The Disappointment Artist in the New York Observer.Got a nice note from Ulrich Baer, editor and translator of a new book put out by the Modern Library called The Poet’s Guide to Life: The Wisdom of Rilke. Sound interesting. Have a look.Why we blog.
Our humongous second-half preview will keep you busy planning your to-read list for the rest of the year, but there are some intriguing new books out this week too. Bonnie Jo Campbell’s novel Once Upon a River is now out, as is Edie Meidav’s Lola, California. (Don’t miss the remarkable essay Meidav wrote for us recently.) Also new is the latest from Benjamin Black (John Banville’s pen name), A Death in Summer, and Flip Flop Fly Ball, a collection of light-hearted and very clever baseball infographics from Craig Robinson (whose work also appears on his blog).
“The older I get, the more my own boundaries seem to be fading, which is terrifying and fascinating in equal measure.” For The Paris Review, Lucie Shelly interviewed Lauren Groff about nature, spirituality, and her newest collection, Florida. (Our review called the collection “startling and precious.”)
“A ‘Complete Poems’ is a death certificate and memorial combined. After the Selected and the Collected, the Complete marks the poet’s official demise and at the same time erects a carven monument designed to outlast the ages.” At The Guardian John Banville reviews The Complete Poems of Philip Larkin which will be out on these shores in March.