Having kicked off his career with a book of poetry, it’s not surprising that Ben Lerner is interested in the late Johns Hopkins professor Allen Grossman, who theorized that people dislike poetry because poems are — by definition — failures. In a piece for the LRB, he runs through the implications of Grossman’s theory, touching on poets as disparate as Shakespeare and William McGonagall. Pair with Kate Angus on why Americans don’t buy poetry books.
David Kurnick explores what makes Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels so addictive. As he puts it, “In Ferrante we see what grand novelistic ambition looks like devoid of writerly vanity.” Pair with Cora Currier’s essay on reading Italy through Ferrante’s books.
Deb Olin Unferth’s memoir Revolution: The Year I Fell in Love and Went to Join the War hits shelves today. To celebrate the genre, she’s curated a special section in this month’s Guernica, with selections by Joshua Cohen and Rozalia Jovanovic, and forthcoming pieces by Porochista Khakpour and Clancy Martin.
In the latest edition of By the Book, Neil Patrick Harris explains his love of Gone Girl, Steve Martin, and John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces. We’ve written about the series in the past — you might want to look back on the entries by Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Colson Whitehead.
This week marked the 90th anniversary of Mrs. Dalloway‘s publication. Over at The Paris Review, Sadie Stein posted an animated adaptation of the novel, which she describes as “either the worst or the best… depending upon how highly you value things like coherence, tone, and style.”
“Starr-Starr, you do whatever they tell you to do,” he said. “Keep your hands visible. Don’t make any sudden moves. Only speak when they speak to you.” Read an excerpt from the Black Lives Matter–inspired YA novel The Hate U Give by A. C. Thomas, scheduled for release next June. See also some of our favorite writers on their favorite political writing, or our review of Nate Marshall’s poetry collection, Wild Hundreds, which critic Emmanuel N. Adolf Alzuphar called “the foremost articulation of contemporary blackness’s dynamism in literature.”