Anyone who’s read The Divine Comedy knows that rivalries and petty grudges are timeless. To further prove the point, Mallory Ortberg provided this list, which details the cattiest lines from Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations. Sample quote: “Why do unskilled and ignorant souls disturb him who has skill and knowledge?”
The Guardian‘s Books Blog is hosting a tournament to determine “The Great American Novelist,” and the list of the final 32 seeded contenders, as voted by the site’s readers, is enough to raise some eyebrows—not as much for who did make the cut as for who didn’t. Guardian readers, haven’t you heard of Richard Yates?
“Maybe I [felt] a shift in responsibility when I had kids. I wanted the work I was doing, whatever it was, to be something that could be meaningful to them one day. That’s where the germ of the memoir came from. I thought that perhaps writing about my parents and where I came from would one day be helpful for my kids.” For Guernica, Christopher Kondrich interviews Tracy K. Smith about writing a memoir, the presence of David Bowie in her Life on Mars, and her reverence for the cosmic. Also check out Sophia Nguyen’s Millions review of Smith’s memoir, Ordinary Light.
“A ‘Complete Poems’ is a death certificate and memorial combined. After the Selected and the Collected, the Complete marks the poet’s official demise and at the same time erects a carven monument designed to outlast the ages.” At The Guardian John Banville reviews The Complete Poems of Philip Larkin which will be out on these shores in March.
Over at Bloom today, a lively Q&A with Charles McNair, whose Pickett’s Charge was the subject of Kevin Hartnett’s recent review here. In particular, McNair takes us through the harrowing blow by blow of his road to publication, the “sophomore jinx story” from a Pulitzer Prize-nominated author.
Recommended Reading: Oliver Burkeman on a new group of optimistic thinkers.