“It suddenly went off: ‘Oh, fuck, I’m going to try it as a novel, aren’t I?’ A terrifying realization because John Lennon is such an iconic figure—and the feeling I get out around there, this kind of eeriness, this kind of strange haunted reverberation. I mean, the fuckin’ Atlantic is a really weird thing to grow up right beside.” Millions staff writer Bill Morris sat down with Kevin Barry to talk about his new book, Beatlebone, and about the trouble of getting John Lennon’s voice right on the page. Morris has brought you a bit on Barry in the past.
The F.B.I. had a massive file on James Baldwin in the fifties and sixties. Among other things, their notes featured passages of surprisingly adept criticism, including an oddly in-depth look at sexuality in his work. You could also read Justin Campbell on race, fatherhood and Baldwin’s fiction.
Last week I asked "What about J.T. Leroy?" I was wondering when the Leroy hoaxers were going to come forward. Now, one of them has. Warren St. John of the New York Times got Geoffrey Knoop to come clean on the record. Knoop also said that he didn't think Laura Albert, who wrote the Leroy books, would ever come forward: "'For her, it's very personal,' he said. 'It's not a hoax. It's a part of her.'"Meanwhile, PopMatters put together a special section about Leroy and James Frey. I enjoyed The Rake's related comments on why Frey can't hold a candle to Charles Bukowski.I saw Brokeback Mountain a few days ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. In an excerpt from Brokeback Mountain: Story to Screenplay, Annie Proulx describes what it was like seeing her story on the screen: "I felt that, just as the ancient Egyptians had removed a corpse's brain through the nostril with a slender hook before mummification, the cast and crew of this film, from the director down, had gotten into my mind and pulled out images." (via Maud)This Boston Globe column articulates quite precisely how I feel about the strife surrounding the cartoons of Mohammed published in a Danish newspaper.
In 1847, Charles Dickens founded a house for homeless women in the Shepherd’s Bush neighborhood of London. After setting up the center’s amenities, he publicized the house using leaflets and, upon hearing that London society was shocked that the center had a piano, spread a rumor that the center boasted a piano for every resident. At The Guardian, a look at a letter Dickens wrote to the matron of the house, to be sold at Christie’s in May. (h/t The Paris Review)
After moving to Brooklyn, Sabine Heinlein spent a year trying to learn English, a task which left the native German speaker “close to aphasic” after a few months. Eventually, she met up with another recent immigrant, who enlisted her for help in a sprawling art project: a collection of words from each language spoken in New York City. At The Hairpin, she writes about her experience.