For those of you who won’t rest until you find out the truth about how Chris McCandless died, know that neither will Jon Krakauer. His recent discoveries appear in the afterword to a new edition of Into the Wild, released in 2015. Also check out this Millions essay on extreme survival books.
It’s been nearly three years since an unknown man last marked Edgar Allan Poe’s birthday by leaving three roses and cognac at Poe’s grave. Today is Poe’s birthday and “Poe fans are planning one last vigil this week before calling an end” to the decades-long tradition of watching the mystery mourner pay his respects. (via)
It doesn’t get much better than James Wood on Joy Williams: “Nothing is stranger (and funnier) in Williams’s work than her details. Like her forms, they only resemble conventional realist details, an atmosphere perhaps encouraged by her flat, functional sentences (“They danced. Sam had quite a bit to drink”). The details are frequently surreal, magical, hallucinogenic, delivered in a cool, dispassionate, routine manner.”
Jonathan Dent offers a fascinating look at one of J.R.R. Tolkien’s most challenging assignments for the Oxford English Dictionary. Apparently as a young philologist, Tolkien was tasked with tracing the etymology of “walrus” – a tricky word “of disputed origin that had all but entirely replaced the earlier English name morse since its first appearance in English in the late 1600s.”
Urvashi Butalia and Ritu Menon founded India’s first feminist publishing house, Kali For Women, in 1984. In 2003, they parted ways to start their own projects: Menon began Women Unlimited; Butalia founded Zubaan Books. Now, in a compressed and edited interview for Mint, Butalia discusses some of the challenges she faces in India’s publishing ecosystem, and also notes, “in my 40 years in publishing, things have never felt as exciting as they are now. It truly seems there are infinite possibilities.”
Recommended Listening: Ben Lerner stops by The New Yorker’s fiction podcast to discuss “Woven, Sir,” a story by John Berger.
The finalists for the 2016 Hugo Awards were announced a few days ago, and it looks like the reactionaries may have struck another blow. A group which calls itself “The Sad Puppies” has been stirring up political controversy at the Hugos for a few years now. Founded in 2013 by writer Larry Correia, who was highly critical of the Hugos for favoring what he believed were “academic” works that allegedly promote “left-leaning messages,” the Puppies have since campaigned vigorously to have writers whose ideologies line up with their own make the final ballot.