Over at Catapult, Mensah Demary shares the story of how he got to be a professional editor. As he puts it, “I was asked recently what it takes to succeed as a writer and editor. Actually, I was being asked a more specific question: how do you become a successful writer and editor? I don’t have the answers; I only have my life.” Pair with Kate Angus’s Millions essay on making a living as a poet.
Fifty years after T.S. Eliot’s death, the poet’s estate has finally agreed to authorize a biography, which explains the publication of Young Eliot, a new book on his early years. Among other things, the book reveals details about Eliot’s first marriage, in which his wife Vivienne Haigh-Wood gave him the nickname “dearest Wonkypenky.”
In her new book The Sixth Extinction, New Yorker staff writer Elizabeth Kolbert makes the case that we’re living in the sixth massive die-off of species in our planet’s history. Corraling evidence from zoologists, environmentalists and more, Kolbert argues that human activity is the cause of this latest event. In a review over at Vulture, Kathryn Schulz writes that Kolbert “makes a page-turner out of even the most sober and scientifically demanding aspects of extinction.”
The Kindle edition of one of our Most Anticipated Books is on sale at $1.99. Our Man in Iraq, a novel by Robert Perišic, follows two Croatian cousins who manage to get caught up in the frenzy of the Iraq War. You can find out more in John Feffer’s interview with Perišic. (h/t Buzz Poole)
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.”