“After only a few lines of Mallarmé, you are engulfed in fine mist, and terror sets in.” Here’s a piece from The New Yorker on contending with the supreme enigma of Stéphane Mallarmé’s poetry.
Max Linsky interviewed Riddle of the Labyrinth author Margalit Fox about the other career she’s had for eight years: obituary writing. Fox remarks on how obituaries have grown from being “the bastard stepchild of American journalism” into “the best gig” in the entire industry. Here’s one of my favorite Fox obituaries, by the way.
New this week are Ron Rash's The Cove, Brian Evenson's Immobility, and Volume Two of Susan Sontag's Journals (all books highlighted in our January preview). Out in paperback this week is David Foster Wallace's The Pale King, from which we recently ran a previously unpublished excerpt.
What can we make of the fact that members of the Guantánamo Bay medical staff have adopted Shakespearean names in “an attempt to avoid being held liable for any mistreatment of detainees?” Globe Theatre artistic director Dominic Dromgoole and Guantánamo detainees lawyer Clive Stafford Smith ponder the question.
New releases this week are Lydia Davis’ new translation of Madame Bovary, Ingrid Betancourt’s memoir Even Silence Has an End, The Prizefighter and the Playwright, a book about the unlikely relationship between George Bernard Shaw and boxer Gene Tunney, and the poetry collection Human Chain by Nobel-Prize winning poet Seamus Heaney.