In an author photo investigation, Matthew Shear and Sven Birkerts discuss standard poses and the anomalous picture of Birkerts that appears in The Other Walk. Pair with this Millions essay about the perils of designing the cover of Lolita.
“This year, Free Comic Book Day turns sixteen years old. The good news: It can drive itself to swim practice now!” NPR’s Monkey See blog provides an irreverent and useful guide to Free Comic Book Day, which is tomorrow, May 6th. “When you read a comic, you are accepting a direct message from one singular honest soul,” Paul Morton wrote in our own pages a few years back.
At Full Stop, the editors interview Susan Bernofsky, who directs the literary translation program at Columbia and has published translations of works by Robert Walser, among other writers. She talks about German phrases that rarely appear in English, as well as the ethics of translating a work faithfully: “I think it’s the translator’s responsibility to be so attuned to the requirements of a given text (and the universe of the author) that these inevitable interventions are always appropriate and never arbitrary or willful,” she says. You could also read Tanya Paperny on the translator Michael Henry Heim.
How can science fiction writers invent aliens and entire planets but not include multifaceted characters of color in their fiction? At The Atlantic, Noah Berlatsky discusses the genre’s equality problem and analyzes how race is viewed in everything from The Left Hand of Darkness to Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. “When that future unthinkingly reproduces current inequities, it seems like both a missed opportunity and a failure of imagination.”
Do you need a pot of coffee before you dive into writing every day? You’re just procrastinating and making yourself less creative. Writer Merrill Markoe did the same thing until she discovered that working right after she wakes up leads to the best creative writing. “Words come pouring out easily while my head still feels as if it is full of ground fog, wrapped in flannel and gauze, and surrounded by a hive of humming, velvety sleep bees.”
Elizabeth Bishop famously exchanged letters with Robert Lowell so remarkable they were later collected and published (Words in Air). This Recording has prepared a selection of her letters to Lowell and others, including one edit focused on the year after a lover’s suicide. Pair with a meditation on the relevance of Bishop’s poetry at crucial life moments.
After his death, fans of David Foster Wallace canonized him as a prophet, according him a degree of benevolence shared by almost no one in American letters. In New York Magazine, Christian Lorentzen argues that Wallace himself worried about this happening, and says he’d “probably be the last person to argue for his sainthood.” His essay pairs nicely with Jonathan Russell Clark on The David Foster Wallace Reader.