“After silence that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.” You’ve seen the quote on Pinterest and Tumblr, so why not dig a little deeper into Aldous Huxley’s ideas about the transcendent capabilities of music?
"In fact, I think Plath has turned out to be a much better poet than Hughes ever was. Of course he won all the prizes, and his name is on the stones in Poet’s Corner and OK, he’s pretty good, but not that good, whereas she gets better and better." Granta interviews the critic Al Alvarez, onetime friend of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes.
New this week: Flings by Justin Taylor; We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas; The Story Hour by Thrity Umrigar; Sweetness #9 by Stephan Eirik Clark; The Undertaking by Audrey Magee; Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher; and a new translation of a French children’s book by Lydia Davis. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great Second-half 2014 Book Preview.
Nathaniel Rich, who seems to have endured his 47-hour train trip without descending into madness, describes one of his favorite historical attractions in New Orleans: the Pharmacy Museum. “There are few things in life more terrifying than antiquated medical devices,” he writes.
If you thought Cameron Diaz's windshield sex scene in The Counselor was weird, things just got weirder for Cormac McCarthy. His ex-wife was arrested for pulling a gun out of her vagina after a domestic dispute about aliens escalated. Pair with: Our essay on McCarthy's foray into screenwriting.
Some of the best novels out there -- Huckleberry Finn, Of Mice and Men -- deal largely with fictional friendships. Yet depictions of close friends that are central to the plot are considerably rare in modern novels. At The Guardian, AD Miller notes this isn’t the case for movies and TV shows, and suggests a number of reasons why. You could also read our own Kevin Hartnett on friendship in the age of Facebook.