“A vast human action is going on. Death watches. So if you have some happiness, conceal it. And when your heart is full, keep your mouth shut also.” Saul Bellow saw a bit of resurgence this year with the publication of his collected non-fiction, There Is Simply Too Much to Say. Why do we need him now more than ever? According to Michael Weiss at The Daily Beast, it’s because he has “a bit of the opposition in him.” This essay is exhaustive and thoroughly researched and well worth your time.
In September of 2013, Paula Meehan was appointed Ireland’s Professor of Poetry, and the transcript from her first lecture is available online [PDF]. You can learn more about Meehan in her interview with the Wake Forest University Press, and you can check out a video of one her readings over here.
Sophia Nguyen writes for Harvard Magazine about the Dark Room Collective, a group of black writers of “starry critical mass whose impact on American letters continues to expand.” Pair with her Millions review of Collective member Tracy K. Smith’s new memoir, Ordinary Light.
"The literature by Vietnamese and Vietnamese-Americans is out there for anyone who knows how to use Google. But so many here and abroad would rather not know, or when a new Vietnamese author is published, would prefer to say, 'At last! A voice for the Vietnamese!' In fact, there are so many voices, for the Vietnamese people are very loud." Pulitzer Prize winner and Year in Reading alumnus Viet Thanh Nguyen (The Sympathizer) writes in The New York Times about the diversity of Vietnamese writing, too often ignored in favor of war narratives and the voices of American veterans. (For an incredible syllabus of books to fill in the gaps, see the middle of his piece.)
Out this week: Local Girls by Caroline Zancan; The Star Side of Bird Hill by Naomi Jackson; The Mountain Story by Lori Lansens; Kay Boyle: A Twentieth-Century Life in Letters; Killing Monica by Candace Bushnell; and a new translation of the poems of Catullus.
"Three weeks before she died on July 25, 2012, Marcia (Marty) Brown Stern ’54 sent me a registered letter, which began, 'What is enclosed may astonish you.' Indeed it did. The envelope included a draft of 'marcia,' an unpublished poem that Sylvia Plath ’55 wrote about their sophomore year together at Smith College in 1951."