“Over the course of our conversation, I’ve come to understand that he has not written (Thomas Jefferson Dreams of Sally Hemings) to provoke or to engender a self-serving sense of shock; he has written with a belief in the possibilities of liminal space and in the revelations that occur at the point of tension. The result is a book that jars, unequivocally, and that disquietingly brings to the surface the anguish of past and present America.” Stephen O’Connor’s poetic reimagining of the relationship between Thomas Jefferson and the enslaved Sally Hemings has certainly raised some eyebrows. This interview with Melody Nixon at BOMB gives O’Connor a platform from which to explain his idea.
“So much of recovery is a fight against exceptionalism—that necessary act of saying, What I’ve lived has been lived before, will be lived again, is nothing special but still holds meaning, still holds truth.” Chris Kraus interviews Leslie Jamison about recovery, memoir, and her forthcoming title, The Recovering, for The Paris Review. Pair with: our interview with Jamison.
It’s a source of hair-pulling anxiety for artists of all kinds: how can you hold down a day job yet commit yourself to your art? It’s undoubtedly possible, but it’s daunting enough that apprentice writers often need advice on how to do it. Herewith, six artists (including writers Catherine Lacey and Shane Jones) explain how they pull it off. Related: Cathy Day on making a living as a writer.
Anne Frank’s copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales is up for auction, including her signature on the book’s flyleaf. “This book really is the springboard from which her nascent literary career and dreams of being a writer were launched,” said Nicholas Lowry, president of Swann Auction Galleries.
A German cow named Yvonne escaped her impending trip to a slaughterhouse and soon became a national icon. In the wake of public outcry, officials have called off the search for her. Elsewhere, Lydia Davis is probably regretting that this story broke after she published her bovine chapbook The Cows.
Tim Parks writes for the NYRB about writers living abroad. As he puts it, “But what about those writers who move to another country and do not change language, who continue to write in their mother tongue many years after it has ceased to be the language of daily conversation? Do the words they use grow arid and stiff? Or is there an advantage in being away from what is perhaps only the flavor of the day at home, the expressions invented today and gone tomorrow? Then, beyond specifically linguistic concerns, what audience do you write toward if you are no longer regularly speaking to people who use your language?” Pair with Hannah Gersen’s Millions piece on reading the English translation of Jhumpa Lahiri’s In Other Words.
“It is a darker book, I don’t deny that, but that’s the story that came to me and wanted to be told.” Seventeen years after Philip Pullman‘s His Dark Materials trilogy ended, the writer is releasing La Belle Sauvage, the first volume of his new trilogy, The Book of Dust. Pullman also said the second volume of the trilogy of already complete, according to The Guardian. Check out our own Janet Potter on grief, books, and His Dark Materials.