“I have wasted my life.” Over at the Paris Review, Dan Piepenbring takes a look at James Wright‘s “Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota” and the many interpretations readers have brought to its famous last line. Among those readers is David Mitchell, who wrote about the same poem in an essay for The Atlantic‘s By Heart series earlier this year.
"[G]uess what, spending hours of your spare time plowing through some dense and symbol-laden carnival of affectation and ambiguity only makes you resentful of the publishing industry that pushed the book on you in the first place." Alex Balk at The Awl takes the piss out of recent studies that have suggested reading literary fiction might make us better people. Writer John Vaillant, whom we interviewed last year, might disagree.
It's a quiet week for new books. David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas, which famously became a blockbuster bestseller after being released as a paperback original, is now available in hardcover for the first time ever in the U.S., thanks to a new Modern Library Edition. Short story master Tessa Hadley has a new collection out, Married Love, (as a paperback original, coincidentally).