“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.
“I certainly didn’t want to do something that felt as if I was having a séance. I started with her most personal papers. I wanted her interior voice; I didn’t want the formal writing. I went immediately to her diaries and letters and to the commonplace books. From there I started looking at the marginalia because I was getting a sense of wanting to know what was on her mind while she was writing in her journals.” Lynell George conducted a posthumous interview with Octavia Butler, Bomb magazine talked to her about the process. Pair it with this essay on slavery in fiction from our own Edan Lepucki.
“Should we understand a photographic document as being first and foremost an artifact of memory, a light-written ghost? Or is it more important to stress its status as a material thing created from pigment, silver, emulsion, paper, plastic, glass, silicon sensors, pulses of electricity? Or is the photograph primarily an opportunity to take or make, an arena for a special type of action?” On Polaroids, instantaneous photography, and memory over at The Nation.
“Macbeth has a twist that sets it apart from every other Shakespearean tragedy: Macbeth murders his voice. Mad with fear that Banquo’s heirs will seize the throne, Macbeth has Banquo killed. After that, our antihero is on his own. There is no one left to verify what is real and what is not … When Macbeth’s voice dies, everything else disappears, too. Macbeth is alone.” This excerpt from Jillian Keenan’s Sex With Shakespeare touches on everything from sexuality in Singapore to The O.C. fan-fiction.