Recommended Reading: On lyric essays and trauma at Ploughshares. “I didn’t start writing lyric essays until I found out I had cancer. The melanoma buried in my right cheek was at first missed, and then misdiagnosed in its severity. Clark’s stage IV, they told me. Likely in my lymph nodes, but they wouldn’t know until my third surgery, the excision and biopsy.”
“Would I have carried myself with the same swagger, or faced adversity with such feminine resolve, without Albertine as my guide?…I was drawn to a striking, remote face—rendered violet on black—on a dust jacket proclaiming its author ‘a female Genet.’ It cost 99 cents, the price of a grilled cheese and coffee at the Waverly Diner, just across Sixth Avenue. I had a dollar and a subway token, but after reading the first few lines I was smitten—one hunger trumped another and I bought the book.” Patti Smith introduces Astragal by Albertine Sarrazin, recently rereleased by New Directions.
In a long investigation of Hunter S. Thompson’s classic essay, “The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved” (PDF), Josh Roiland takes readers to church by pointing out exactly what’s so alluring about the piece, which “scholars often point to … as the origin of Gonzo Journalism.”
Out this week: Wait Till You See Me Dance by Deb Olin Unferth; Our Short History by Lauren Grodstein; Lucky You by Erika Carter; An Arrangement of Skin by Anna Journey; The River of Kings by Taylor Brown; and More Alive and Less Lonely by Jonathan Lethem. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
“Our culture has focused so much attention on the most visible members of the Black Panthers that it has been easy to forget it was a nationwide organization — an entity that needed to attract ordinary people who believed in something and were also willing to work for it.” In the Times, Rembert Browne reviews two new books about the Black Power movement.