Here is a helpful User’s Guide to John Irving from the good people over at Hazlitt–it should be all you need in order to tackle Irving’s newest novel, Avenue of Mysteries. This slightly disheartened take on what it’s like to re-read Irving is worth a look.
The popularity of Joshua Katz’s American dialect maps inspired The Atlantic to create their own dialect video. In it, Atlantic staff members call people from across the country, recording them so listeners can hear their accents, and ask them to answer questions from a 2003 Harvard survey.
In a By Heart piece for The Atlantic, Harriet Lane writes about the “bleak precise nature” of Philip Larkin‘s poetry (what Stephen Akey called “The Poetry of Mental Unhealth” in a Millions review) and about the power inherent in writing fiction. “In my everyday life I have no control, really: who does? But on paper, I hold all the cards. Fiction provides you with a way to shape a world, to exert the kind of power and agency our real lives so often lack.”