It’s been seventeen years since Judy Blume published a book for adult readers. Her latest, In the Unlikely Event, brings that streak to an end. In the Times, Caroline Leavitt reviews her new book, which depicts a small town in the fifties reeling in the wake of three consecutive plane crashes. FYI, our own Lydia Kiesling wrote an essay on Blume’s book Forever.
“An easel stood just inside the big glass doorway when I entered the store. On it leaned my author photo, the one from the back cover of Domestic Violets, and it was fucking enormous. It was the size of a photo you’d expect to see if Bono had been appearing at Barnes & Noble, Bill Clinton maybe, or perhaps the Reverend Desmund Tutu. For a full 30 seconds I stood there and looked at the gigantic, painstakingly airbrushed picture of myself. An elderly couple walked in and did a double take when they saw a stunned-looking me looking at me. ‘It’s too big,’ I told them.” This is what you do when no one shows up to your reading.
If you thought Michel Houellebecq was controversial, let me direct your attention to Kenneth Goldsmith. In this piece, the poet that everyone loves to hate asserts his desire “to take Walter Benjamin off the pedestal and on to the coffee table.” His newest, Capital, is out now.
Trevor Berrett, the man behind The Mookse and the Gripes, and now The Worlds and Works of Shakespeare, is conducting a giveaway for the NYRB Classics edition of Mark Van Doren’s Shakespeare. Conditions to enter are enumerated on his blog, which you should certainly bookmark if you’re a fan of the Bard.
“By three a.m., the seven of us had drunk a case of champagne, plus two additional bottles, followed by whiskey digestifs for the men. ‘They do this all the time,’ Pierre’s wife Chloe whispered to me in English at one point—dismissively, but without malice. As if to say, sure, Pierre’s relatives were lushes, but perhaps this was how life should be, inévitablement.” I doubt I have to tell you what city this all took place in.
The Cambridge University Press just published The Letters of Samuel Beckett, Vol. 2. (Vol. 1 can be found here.) That alone is worth your time, but as an added bonus the Press’ blog has compiled a partial syllabus for the author — a sampling of the titles “on the writer’s nightstand … from 1941 to 1956.”
As you may have heard, this year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the passing of Sylvia Plath. It also, not coincidentally, marks the release of two new biographies: American Isis (the first to draw material from the recently-opened Ted Hughes archive) and Mad Girl’s Love Song (which looks at the poet’s relationship with her “big, dark, hunky boy”). Emma Garman weighs the impact of all this new scholarship at Salon.