We’ve heard a lot about “Cool Pope” Francis in the past few weeks. For a take on the Vatican that’s a bit different from the usual fare, check out this piece from the London Review of Books on the pontiff’s battle against corruption among the cardinals in Rome.
What’s the one question you should never ask a writer starting a new book: how’s the writing going? “Nothing can damage a novel in embryo as quickly and effectively as trying to describe it before it’s ready,” Mark Slouka writes. Follow his advice for how to keep your writer friends.
In the sixties, when he was a student at Cambridge, Stephen Greenblatt came across a book of Persian art. The book inspired a lifelong interest in the region, which in part explains why, after the University of Tehran invited him to give the keynote address at the first annual Iranian Shakespeare Congress, he packed his bags and headed over to the Middle East. In The New York Review of Books, the Harvard professor and Swerve author writes about his experience.
In May, poet David Lehman wrote the first line of a sonnet about cubicle anomie and began crowdsourcing the rest. The completed 12-week project at The American Scholar is not merely a pretty great piece on its own, but a lesson in how to write one, line by line: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8/9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14. You can submit your title suggestion as late as midnight on Sunday, but we suggest getting a start on it now, while the prison of work is still fresh in mind. (h/t The New York Times)
Cheryl Strayed’s Wild is probably the best-known recent example of a memoir that centers on a journey through a harsh landscape. There’s another one that deserves your attention, too — Kathleen Winter’s Boundless, which tells the tale of the writer’s voyage through the icebound Northwest Passage. At The Guardian, a review of the memoir.