“The way (Yeats) puts down a man’s head & a woman’s head side by side, or face to face, is terrifying, two irreducible singlenesses & the impassable immensity between.” The Paris Review has published a brief, fascinating letter written by Samuel Beckett to his aunt Cissie Sinclair containing an original poem and some positive criticism of the painter Jack B. Yeats. Top it off with this essay by Elizabeth Winkler about language, style, and translation–and how any of that might help to make sense of Beckett’s convoluted legacy.
Ever since the Man Booker prize was opened up to American writers, there’s been a renewed debate about America’s contributions to the literary scene. Many people have wondered who past Bookers would have gone to had American authors been eligible. At The Guardian, a roundtable including Year in Reading alum Joshua Ferris, Curtis Sittenfeld, Edna O’Brien and Martin Amis pick American books they think would have won if they’d had the chance. You could also read Joanna Scutts on the history of the prize, or check out the most recent Booker shortlist.
It’s fitting that Ray Bradbury credited his interest in architecture to an H.G. Wells story he read when he was five. At The Paris Review Daily, a previously unpublished essay by the author, who says his career in architecture started when he noticed there was no plaque at the residence of Sherlock Holmes. Related: Tanjil Rashid on Bradbury’s connection to the Middle East.
Elizabeth Bishop famously exchanged letters with Robert Lowell so remarkable they were later collected and published (Words in Air). This Recording has prepared a selection of her letters to Lowell and others, including one edit focused on the year after a lover’s suicide. Pair with a meditation on the relevance of Bishop’s poetry at crucial life moments.
Live in New York? Like Flavorpill? Then you should probably mosey on down to their event on Thursday, where they’ll be listening to the songwriter Holly Miranda and talking with Lindsay Hunter about her new book, Don’t Kiss Me. (If you’ll recall, our own Nick Moran wrote about Lindsay’s work here and here.)
Our own Emily St. John Mandel’s new novel The Lola Quartet is out today. New Yorkers can see her (and some other Millions staffers) read on Sunday. Also out are Robert Caro’s latest installment of his LBJ biography, Nell Freudenberger’s The Newlyweds, Billy Lynn’s Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain, Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel, and Steve Coll’s oil industry exposé Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power.