“I think what I would really most like to write about is palm trees and bougainvillea and hummingbirds. I would like to go into the desert and write about salamanders and the Grand Canyon, but history keeps rupturing my experience because politics are everywhere.” National Book Award winner Robin Coste Lewis on overcoming brain damage and becoming a poet. Pair with Andrew Kay’s Millions essay on the power of poetry.
C author Tom McCarthy takes on The Pale King in the New York Times Book Review this week. Separately, though the hard cover of The Pale King shipped and appeared on shelves ahead of the announced April 15 release date, the Kindle version only became available yesterday, right on schedule.
There’s been a lot of talk recently about the possibilities for contemporary war literature, especially in light of the success of Phil Klay‘s Redeployment. Now Flavorwire considers “a crop of fiction that approaches the question of American intelligence, torture, and military intervention slantwise,” particularly Mark Doten’s The Infernal, which was included in our 2015 Book Preview.
Toni Morrison wrote an obituary for James Baldwin in The New York Times, published December 20, 1987 and online for you to read. “Jimmy, there is too much to think about you, and too much to feel. The difficulty is your life refuses summation – it always did – and invites contemplation instead. Like many of us left here I thought I knew you. Now I discover that in your company it is myself I know.” Justin Campbell reflects on Baldwin, race, and fatherhood.
“Yehuda Amichai’s genius lies in how—to borrow from his own language—he makes metaphor ‘useful.’ He thinks metaphorically, and in so doing he makes stories of them, treating his likenesses as if they were not metaphorical but animated literalisms. That’s why, I suspect, his metaphors have not merely poetic power but practical vitality, in the way that a horse is not only alive but usefully alive.” Every time James Wood publishes a big profile in The New Yorker, it’s worth a read; this week’s essay on the “secular psalmist” and poet Yehuda Amichai is no different.
Few people have a stranger life story than Jillian Lauren. A former party girl of a royal harem in Brunei, she overcame a heroin addiction to become, among other things, a writer with two memoirs to her name. At The Nervous Breakdown, she talks about her latest book, her religious faith and her adopted Ethiopian son.