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.
Pretty good deal on Amazon today: All the e-book versions of the “Best American” books are $1.99.
John Cage–renowned composer, music theorist, writer, artist, and Zen enthusiast–is a a veritable treasure trove of Curiosities. Here’s a video from 1973 of Cage performing his most famous piece, 4’33”, in Harvard Square. It’s hard for even the man himself to top the genius of this inspired performance, however.
George Saunders is taking up residence at the Powell’s Blog this week as he embarks on a book tour promoting his latest (released today), The Braindead Megaphone. To my knowledge, it is Saunders’ first foray into blogging, a format we discussed nearly two years ago (scroll down). His concern: “I worry about how much I would have to pay myself to keep my blog supplied with content. My fear is that, knowing I was working for myself, I would start cheating myself, only submitting my worst pieces, then get into a labor dispute with myself and never speak to me again.” Hopefully, his fears aren’t realized.A new issue of Scott Esposito’s terrific Quarterly Conversation has arrived. It features, among several notable contributors, Garth, who “sorts out literary feuds, dissects James Wood’s essay against Don DeLillo’s 832-page opus Underworld, and argues that this book actually evolves the novel forward.”Emdashes has the schedule for this year’s New Yorker Festival. It looks fantastic as usual. I should really go sometime.
It’s not always a given that good people make good characters. Over at The Atlantic, Tony Tulathimutte explains how none other than one Philip Roth taught him the importance of showing every aspect of your characters–even the bad ones. Here’s an older piece from the same series in which Paul Lisicky writes about Flannery O’Connor and her “flawed characters.”