Earlier this month, I wrote about Louis Menand’s recent New Yorker piece about The Life of Saul Bellow, a new biography of the Nobel laureate by Zachary Leader. Now, in the LRB, Andrew O’Hagan reads the book. Sample quote: “Bellow’s community was his subject and his subject was his voice.”
Andrew Ervin interviewed Matt Bell for Tin House. Bell’s forthcoming novel In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and Woods will come out this summer. (Excerpt) It’s a book that was at least partially enhanced by Bell’s sense of “competition … of a useful kind” with his friend Robert Kloss. “I was so blown away [by Alligators of Abraham],” Bell admits, “that I can remember having to resist putting down his first novel to go make mine better.”
If you’re a professor or mentor, it’s the time of year you should expect to be hit up for recommendation letters. You can find inspiration in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s recommendation letter for Walt Whitman, when the latter was seeking government employment despite his controversial poetry. “He is known to me as a man of strong original genius, combining, with marked eccentricities, great powers & valuable traits of character: a self-relying large-hearted man, much beloved by his friends.” Even if the government didn’t like Whitman’s work, we do; read our own Michael Bourne’s essay on the power of Whitman’s poetry.
“Acclaimed novelist Cormac McCarthy, 79, wowed Cabo beachgoers Wednesday after debuting his sizzling new summer physique in a light-blue Vilebrequin swimsuit that showed off at least 20 extra pounds of lean muscle.” (Bonus: Benjamin Percy thinks McCarthy may have written “the scariest passage in all of literature.”)
A couple weeks ago, we published our review of Ben Lerner’s 10:04, the follow-up to his debut Leaving the Atocha Station. At the Poetry Foundation’s blog, Adam Plunkett argues that 10:04 inadvertently reveals its author’s poetic training. The book, he says, “dissolves into a poem.”
A good week for new releases: John McPhee’s new, more personal collection of essays, Silk Parachute, Sam Lipsyte’s The Ask, and, of course, our own Sonya Chung’s debut Long for This World. All three of these books were on our “Most Anticipated” list for 2010. New in paperback today is Colm Tóibín’s Brooklyn.