“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.
At the LARB, Anne Trubek quotes Lionel Trilling in a review of The Son and American Rust, the two books published thus far by New Yorker 20 Under 40 alum Phillipp Meyer. “In the American metaphysic,” Trilling wrote in his essay “Reality in America,” “reality is always material reality, hard, resistant, unformed, impenetrable, and unpleasant.” Those of you who read our pieces on both books may be able to guess why the quote is relevant.
I’ve been noticing some of the fantastic pages that libraries and museums have put up for their book exhibits. Here’s Czech book covers of the 1920s and 1930s and Civil War maps from the Library of Congress, for example.Fans of audiobooks will enjoy this essay by the pseudonymous Thomas H. Benton at the Chronicle of Higher Education. Link via OPTR.Thinking about getting rid of some books? This Ask Metafilter thread has lots of suggestions on where to donate your books.For a year, I was a bookstore employee who blogged, so the story of this book clerk in the UK who got fired for blogging hit pretty close to home.
Those of you with brothers or sisters will not be surprised to learn that siblings who are both writers tend to be a wee bit competitive. In a piece for the Poetry Foundation, Casey N. Cep runs through a few famous examples, among them the Bröntes, the Wordsworths and Charles and Mary Lamb. (h/t Arts and Letters Daily)
Self-published novelist Kemble Scott debuts at no. 5 on the San Francisco Chronicle’s bestseller list with The Sower, following a limited hard-cover release to Bay Area independent booksellers by Numina Press, who acquired the book after Scott’s initial e-book upload to scribd.com in May. According to Publisher’s Weekly, “The Sower has had one of the most unorthodox publishing trajectories in these changing publishing times.”
Considering an anthology about writers leaving New York came out last year (with a contribution by our own Emily St. John Mandel), it makes sense that we should now look back on the career of E.B. White, who gave up his Manhattan apartment for a farm in rural Maine.