“What is missing from Testimony is the customary idealistic hero, the one last encountered in Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass who doesn’t avert his eyes from suffering and sordidness, but who nevertheless is full of hope for a better future. Testimony is a corrective, an anti-epic.” Charles Simić recounts Charles Reznikoff’s long poem Testimony: The United States (1885-1915): Recitative in the NYRB.
Richard Branson has built a global business empire (Virgin Group) around the philosophy "have fun and the money will come." Branson's new book, Screw Business as Usual, says there's a way to make money and also do good. And speaking of having fun, watch Branson and Steven Colbert get into a fire extinguisher/water fight.
Starting today and lasting until the end of the summer, The New Yorker is completely free online, including archives back to 2007. What to read? To start off, try searching the fiction page for, say, George Saunders. There's that famous Lawrence Wright piece on Scientology. Or feel free to consult the magazine's own roundup. But I happen to be most impressed by this grandaddy of all longform articles on six survivors of Hiroshima (subscription required).
In honor of Women in Translation month, The Guardian asks 10 female translators and writers about the work that inspires them, with answers ranging from Visitation by Jenny Erpenbeck to Valeria Luiselli’s The Story of My Teeth, which we reviewed when it came out in the States. Pair with this survey of the work of Argentine writer Leila Guerriero.
Out this week: Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo; Midwinter Break by Bernard MacLaverty; Caca Dolce by Chelsea Martin; The Surveyors by Mary Jo Salter; and The Red-Haired Woman by Orhan Pamuk. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
It's always disappointing when your novel fails to get published, but what if that novel were still lurking online? At The New York Times, Jason K. Friedman writes about finding the Amazon and Google links for his novel that never made it to print. "Google admits, 'We haven’t found any reviews in the usual places,' which in this case would be the planet Earth." Pair with: Our own Edan Lepucki's essay on how to cope with not selling your novel.