In the latest issue of The New York Review of Books, Jean Strouse brings us inside John Singer Sargent’s inner circle. The exhibition, “Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends,” is on view at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art until October 4th. You could also read Edra Ziesk’s piece on what makes a friend.
“I started zoning out a little. My eyes drifted over toward my cat. Mr. Patterson pulled me right back in by saying, ‘Once you have the outline, start writing dude, you’re ready.’ It was that dude that woke me.” At The Awl, Patrick Hoffman reviews James Patterson’s MasterClass on writing. Pair with Bill Morris's account of losing his Pattersonian virginity at 32,000 feet.
Who’s the official Zombie Apocalypse Preparedness Officer at your place of work? You mean you don’t have one? Well, get on that promptly. The Center for Disease Control advises that “If you are generally well equipped to deal with a zombie apocalypse you will be prepared for a hurricane, pandemic, earthquake, or terrorist attack,” so you might as well kill five birds with one stone.
“Melville fell in love with the dashingly handsome older author the first time they met, and his forbidden passion drove him to create the symbol of impossible longing that now represents American literature to the rest of the world: the white whale.” On Herman Melville’s love for Nathaniel Hawthorne. Pair with a review of Hawthorne’s The Marble Faun.
“‘It is the novelist’s innate cowardice that makes him depute to imaginary personalities the sins that he is too cautious to commit for himself.’ The autobiography of the imagination then is an autobiography of our base desires, the things we haven’t done but have longed for. It is our fantasies, our secrets from which we curate by redaction how someone else sees us. It is an autobiography of instinct, desire.” Emilia Phillips on poetry as the autobiography of the imagination, over at Ploughshares.
"I don’t start with disorder; I start with the tradition. If you’re not trained in the tradition, then deconstruction means nothing." On Derrida, Foucault, and the deconstructionist defense of the canon.
"I don’t think writing the truth makes you strong by default. I think it makes you vulnerable, which in turn can make you strong." Amy Jo Burns writes for Ploughshares about the difficulties of "Writing About Other People" and the upcoming publication of her debut memoir, Cinderland.