“Yes, he cheated, he cracked up, he was irresponsible and even cruel in the way he marshaled his life for his art. Lowell nonetheless believed that women were his intellectual and artistic equals. He spent most of his life behaving accordingly even as he treated his wives and mistresses so terribly, in romantic terms, that it was almost operatic. That is the puzzle of Robert Lowell and women.” It’s not quite Valentine’s Day yet, but this piece on the inarguably tumultuous relationship between Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Hardwick is sure to make you feel something.
“You can’t be worrying how you sound. You can’t wonder whether you or your characters are likable or smart or interesting. You have to be inside the scene—the tactile world of tables and chairs and sunlight—attending to your characters, people who exist for you in nonvirtual reality.” Paris Review editor Lorin Stein writes for The New York Times about solitude in the age of the Internet and the future of the book.
“Were you happy? With Green it’s likelier you were in love, attuned to the littlest differences, rapt at eventless descriptions that should be boring but aren’t, in awe of the way a cut-rate bunch of flowers is described, interpreting each symbol as a sign, sickened when your interpretation failed.” On the novels of Henry Green.
“A month ago, I touched a lock of Sylvia Plath’s hair.” At Tin House, Emma Komlos-Hrobsky examines the relationship between the late poet and her fans.
I’ve long evangelized Mary Roach’s writing because she has such a knack for conveying extremely complicated information in an incredibly entertaining way. (See also: Susan Casey and Michael Lewis.) From cadavers to space travel, she focuses on our world’s most natural curiosities – and now she’s diving into perhaps the most natural curiosity of all: digestion. In her new book, Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal, Roach takes readers on a journey through their own gullets. To get a brief idea, check out the book trailer. (It’s very “Innerspace”)
The Chilean government has finally admitted that Pablo Neruda may have been assassinated by the Pinochet regime. The admission was followed by a hasty reminder that a panel of experts is currently investigating the matter and that “no conclusion has been reached.” One curious little sidebar: Augusto Pinochet was allegedly an avid collector of books.
According to Gilles Deleuze, “the lives of philosophers are rarely interesting.” This may have come as a surprise to Jacques Derrida, who once spent a couple days in jail after cops in the Prague airport tried to frame him for smuggling weed. (This incident gets ample coverage in a new biography of the scholar).