Sylvia Plath’s final days have long been a source of fascination and horror for many readers. In a forthcoming unauthorized biography of Plath’s husband Ted Hughes, it is claimed that one of Hughes’s more contentious poems, “Last Letter,” was written after an argument the couple had the night before Plath took her own life. Ted Hughes: An Unauthorized Life is out next week.
Friends, former students and admirers are rallying around poet Dean Young. Young, who has taught at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a number of other MFA programs, is in need of a heart transplant, and fellow poet Tony Hoagland has put out a call for help. (Thanks Arna)
The Guardian gives us Booker-winner Line of Beauty “condensed in the style of the original.”Some of you may have already seen this one: The 100 Greatest Books of all Time, also from the Guardian. How many have you read? I’m at 24, and I love that Kingsley Amis’ Lucky Jim makes the list. To anyone who is looking for a recommendation on what to read right now: get Lucky Jim, you’ll love it.Weren’t we talking about ISBNs the other day? Here’s a new blog about ISBNs and “book information” by a former Amazon employee and the creator of isbn.nu.Steve Landsburg asks: Too many books? I’m not completely sure I see his point. He seems to be implying that people only read one book a year. Furthermore, publishers fall all over themselves trying to create a blockbuster book; it’s far more cost-effective to promote a few guaranteed big sellers than a lot of risky titles. Sad but true. Perhaps the better thing to do is not to bemoan the inevitable Da Vinci Codes but to instead look for creative, cost-effective ways to promote riskier books.Malcolm Gladwell, author of the trendsetting book about trendsetting, The Tipping Point, has new book coming out called Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, in which he “reveals that what we think of as decisions made in the blink of an eye are much more complicated than assumed.”
Though no big name today, early 20th-century poet Florence Ripley Mastin published prolifically in her lifetime – a dozen times in Poetry, more than 90 in the New York Times. Poetry’s Ruth Graham argues that the successes of Mastin, an untrained amateur, say more about her times than her talent. These days, amateur poets today benefit from refrigerator poetry sets, numerous poetry apps and sites, and the infinite community of the internet, but the Times has long excised poetry from its pages. In the archives, Patrick Wensink meets and analyzes those who doggedly pursue poetry these faded days.
Tony Tulathimutte offers advice on lowering word count: Merge scenes, murder characters, quit writing altogether: “merge scenes, murder characters, ‘start as close to the end as possible’ (Kurt Vonnegut), quit writing altogether.” Pair with this Millions piece on writing slowly and by hand.