“What a nice fire,” he said to himself. It certainly was. Kept him very warm, too.” That inspired bit of writing was Jack London’s short story To Build A Fire as summarized by someone who hasn’t read the book. Don’t worry, there are plenty more where that came from.
“Over the past thirty-five years alone, language from Frost’s poem has appeared in nearly two thousand news stories worldwide, which yields a rate of more than once a week. In addition, ‘The Road Not Taken’ appears as a title, subtitle, or chapter heading in more than four hundred books by authors other than Robert Frost, on subjects ranging from political theory to the impending zombie apocalypse.” David Orr writes for The Paris Review about Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken,” one of the most misread poems of the English language.
Recommended reading: The Guardian reports on Varlam Shalamov, a Russian author who spent 17 years in the harsh camps of the Kolyma gulag, wrote more than 140 short stories, and still claimed ““I hate literature. I do not write memoirs; nor do I write short stories. That is, I try to write not a short story but something that would not be literature.”
The gorgeous paperback edition of our own Garth Risk Hallberg’s A Field Guide to the North American Family is now out. Also new and noteworthy are Francisco Goldman’s New Yorker excerpted story of the death of his young wife Say Her Name, Meg Wolitzer’s The Uncoupling, Ann Packer’s Swim Back to Me, Blake Butler’s There is No Year, and Phillip Connors’s intriguing debut, Fire Season: Field Notes from a Wilderness Lookout. Elsewhere, we’ve got Tina Fey’s raved about memoir Bossypants and a new and long in the works biography of Malcolm X, whose author, Manning Marable died just last week on the eve of the book’s publication. Finally, now out in paperback is the fiction blockbuster The Help.
Alice Driver writes for Vela about growing up in Arkansas and becoming an artist. As she explains it, “Because I have no debt, I have been able to pursue writing and have had the opportunity to fail time and again.” Pair with Kate Angus’s Millions essay on making a living as a poet.