Nobody needs reminding that Yeats was a major poet, but it can be easy to forget, a hundred years of his major work, just why his poetry has endured. In The Irish Times, Denis O’Donoghue makes a forceful case for Yeats’s relevance, arguing that “Yeats solved, or came closer than any other modern poet in English to solving, the problem that defeated so many of his contemporaries: how to reconcile the claims of common speech, morally responsible, with the insisted-on autonomy of the poem.”
The Toast is nearing the end of its long, hilarious run. Hurry up and check out the new pieces while you still can — like this helpful guide as to whether or not you are in a Regency-era novel written after the end of the Regency, full of dead giveaways like: “There is lace at your throat and wrists and disdain in your eyes and heart.”
Last night I went to listen to Chris Kraus, Tamara Faith Berger, and Sheila Heti read the dirty parts of their books. Then I wrote a #LitBeat about it. For a little extra context, you might like to also read this article, written by Elizabeth Gumport for n+1, on Kraus’s writing and publishing career.
At Salon, Kyle Minor listens to an audiobook recording of Joan Didion’s Salvador and finds that it remains “immediately relevant to a new reader whose memory of its context is more the kind of memory that arises from having read books about history than one that arises from having been old enough in 1983 to understand the meaning of phrases such as death squad, or body count, or mechanism of terror.”
“He had never slept in a better bed, Rainsford decided later, lying in his bed, after they had played several rounds of various games, and didn’t hunt one another at all.” You probably encountered Richard Connell’s The Most Dangerous Game at some point during your educational career — you definitely never came across this “comforting and anodyne” version, though.
“The real world is massive and chaotic beyond the scope of any story, but the novel has always been the storytelling medium that could come closest to capturing it. And the novels that dared to really try – from Hugo to Tolstoy – are often the ones that have endured.” That’s not to say, of course, that bigger is always better, and in an article for The Guardian Damien Walter argues against the current glut of epic, serialized fantasy novels taking their cues from George R.R. Martin‘s A Song of Ice and Fire. As Walter puts it, “There are great fantasy short stories, novellas and single novels that deserve much wider audiences, but are sidelined by the industry’s unhealthy fixation with the serial format. It’s time for the fantasy genre to tell some new – shorter – stories.”