Over at the Catapult, Nicole Chung has launched a series on adoption, featuring essays by Megan Galbraith and James Han Mattson. You could also check out Matthew Salesses’s Millions essay on inciting incidents and new beginnings as an adoptee.
Anwen Crawford reflects on newly published letters from Sylvia Plath; “The belief among many of Plath’s devotees seems to be that if we can get clear of other people’s fingerprints on her texts, allowing Plath to ‘fully narrate her own autobiography,’ as the editors here describe it, we will at last solve the riddle of her. The extremities of her poetry will balance against the circumstances of her life; the latter will equal the former. But her griefs were ordinary; it is what she did with them that wasn’t. Plath turned her common sorrows—dead father, mental illness, cheating husband—into something like an origin story for pain itself, as if her own pain preceded the world.” In the New Yorker
Andrew O’Hagan, whose books have gotten some Booker Prize notice over the years, has a new one out (it’s been out in the UK for a while now) called The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog, and of His Friend Marilyn Monroe, which, as the title perhaps suggests, is told in the voice of Monroe’s Scottish maltese poodle called Maf. Also out this week is Tom Clancy’s first new “Jack Ryan” thriller in quite some time, Dead or Alive.
Why do we strain ourselves to apply scientific methods to the humanities, when the results of such studies always miss the point, asks Maria Konnikova. For those looking to do some field research on the fruits of the growing digital humanities movement before condemning them, the latest issue of the Journal of Digital Humanities is packed with interesting (and chart-filled) reads.
Gertrude Stein once said of Oakland that “There’s no ‘there’ there.” If the latest novel by Michael Chabon, Telegraph Avenue, is any indication, not everyone agrees — the author set the book in the Oakland of 2004. At The New Yorker’s Page-Turner blog, Matt Feeney delves into the book’s racial politics.