Recommended Reading: New poetry from John Ashbery in the January 18th issue of the New Yorker. If you’re looking for inspiration, read Ashbery, “buy a bottle of wine and stay up all night drinking it while producing an imitation” of the poet’s work.
My essay on Zadie Foster Franzenides and the current state of literary aesthetics is in this weekend’s New York Times Magazine.
Starting today and lasting until the end of the summer, The New Yorker is completely free online, including archives back to 2007. What to read? To start off, try searching the fiction page for, say, George Saunders. There’s that famous Lawrence Wright piece on Scientology. Or feel free to consult the magazine’s own roundup. But I happen to be most impressed by this grandaddy of all longform articles on six survivors of Hiroshima (subscription required).
We’ve all had that annoying moment of finding the perfect word to win Scrabble with, except that word doesn’t count. Now, Scrabble is letting players nominate a new word to enter its dictionary. You can submit on Facebook. Just do us a favor, and nominate something better than “hashtag” or “selfie.”
Poet turned playwright Sarah Ruhl’s latest stage production, Dear Elizabeth, is based on the correspondence between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell. She recently spoke to Ruth Graham about her inspiration, and whether other writers’ letters could be adapted for the stage as well. (As an aside: you really should read The Clean House if you haven’t already.)
Cheryl Strayed’s collection of “Dear Sugar” columns is out this week (read our review). Also out are Our Kind of People by Uzodinma Iweala, The Investigation by Philippe Claudel, True Believers by Kurt Andersen, and The Absolutist by John Boyne. The new edition of Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms with all the extra endings is out, as is (just in time for the Olympics) an oral history of the original Dream Team. Donald Ray Pollack’s The Devil All the Time is out in paperback.