If you’ve been on the Internet in the past week, you’ve probably heard about Beyoncé’s incredible new record, Lemonade. Noah Friedman at Wordshop 101 explains why Lemonade is great press for poets (particularly Warsan Shire, who is featured in the film). Andrew Kay writes on how reading poetry aloud connects us with the dead.
The Olympics Opening Ceremony this year sure was… something. Thankfully, folks more eloquent than I are here to parse its craziness for us: Jenny Diski and Rafil Kroll-Zaidi on what it was, plus Alex Shephard and the Full Stop bunch on what it should have been.
What is the greatest crime in literary history? Depending on who you ask, it was probably the burning of Byron's memoirs. Shortly after his death, three of Byron's closest friends, along with a few attorneys representing family interests, decided that the memoirs were too scandalous to publish and thus tossed them bit by bit into a fireplace. They claim to have been acting in his best interest, and, as Byron himself said, "There is no instinct like that of the heart."
"Fiction is messier. Essay is, for me, an attempt at a kind of clarity. I have a very messy and chaotic mind, but when I’m writing an essay I find I can exert a bit more control over it.” The The Guardian published a Q&A with Zadie Smith with questions from fellow authors, politicians, and fans. Smith's upcoming essay collection, Feel Free, is featured in the first half of our 2018 Great Book Preview.
"On closer inspection, however, the book comes off as something more complicated than a flowering of one eccentric and filthy man’s erotic imagination. Its elaborate descriptions of pleasure given and taken start to seem like scrims for a moral argument about what sorts of sexual behaviors should be 'forbid' and which should be encouraged—an argument refined in prison by an author deeply occupied with thoughts of punishment, dissipation, and sin." On John Cleland's (very erotic) novel Fanny Hill and the importance of its having been written in prison.