Over at Hazlitt, Lesley Buxton’s moving essay on marriage, grief, and understanding will hit you square in the heart. Here’s an essay for The Millions by Lydia Yuknavitch on art and loss that is similarly heavy and no less wonderful.
Canonical literature isn't the only way to learn about America. The bestseller list can be equally as telling. Matthew Kahn is reading 100 years of No. 1 bestsellers from 1913 to 2013. He blogs about the books and discusses the project in an interview with Salon's Laura Miller. When Miller asks what makes a bestseller, he claims, "A lot of it is just a matter of accessibility. A focus on plot and character rather than structure and the prose itself."
This article on M.F.K. Fisher, the godmother of American food writing, should be catnip for those of you who like reading about food almost as much as eating it. A onetime French expat, Fisher conducted “a one-woman revolution in the field of literary cookery,” most notably with her collection of essays The Gastronomical Me. (Back in 2010, Jessica Ferri wrote about Fisher for The Millions.)
“At the train station in Cerbère, France, M. and I have survived the grueling hike on the Sentier de la Liberté Walter Benjamin.” For Catapult, Gwen Strauss writes about climbing the path that Benjamin used to flee the Gestapo, only to take his own life at its terminus. See also: Kyle Chayka's recommendation of The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction in our own pages just last week.
In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris, Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast has rocketed to number one best-seller status in France as an emblem of cultural defiance. With a title in its French iteration that roughly translates to “Paris is a celebration,” the sudden popularity of the book run even Amazon out of stock.
“During various periods of my life I have succumbed to the siren call of sleeping pills. It is hard to resist their promise: one tablet, and your night will be purged. Your brain may be in overdrive, its receptors working away, hungrily awaiting more images and information, but like a computer it is forced into another mode. Yet the little white disks with a dent down the middle are no panacea; whenever I take one of these thought guillotines I feel trapped in a grey zone, seesawing between mid and shallow slumber, mind and body dulled but not of their own accord.” A lifelong insomniac recounts her long struggle with the illness.