Recommended Listening: Renata Adler’s Longform podcast on writing routines and the need for acquiring a sense of danger.
The New York Times is reporting that the poet John Ashbery has died. A major figure in American letters, Ashbery won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award in a single year for his book Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror. The full Times obituary has more.
Michael Cunningham, who alongside Maureen Corrigan and Susan Larson sat on the jury of the Pulitzer Prize for for fiction, gives the clearest account yet of how the award process works and defends the three shortlisted titles. His letter is in two parts, he also addresses the function of judgment and begins to build a poetics of literary greatness.
Book Cover Roundup, Item #1: Each year The Millions publishes a high stakes face-off between the UK and US covers of books featured in The Morning News' Tournament of Books (2014, 2013, 2012). Now, for Sarah Hemfrey's research on book covers in the publishing industry, it's your turn to be the judge. Item #2: if Harry Potter is more your style, that whole series is getting new cover designs, too.
In the latest issue of Harvard magazine, Nathan Heller writes about Arion Press, the last remaining “full-service letterpress in the United States.” Apparently Arion, which has “an in-house foundry where lead is melted into ingots,” sells editions of canonical titles (like Ulysses) that retail for thousands of dollars. (h/t our own Kevin Hartnett)