For The Brooklyn Rail, John Ashbery answers some questions about writing in French, crushes on boys, and the presence of “it.” As he puts it, “I’m sort of notorious for my use of the pronoun ‘it’ without explaining what it means, which somehow never seemed a problem to me.”
At Page-Turner, our own Mark O’Connell notes “a thrilling obscenity” in the works of Gonçalo M. Tavares, a Portuguese writer whose recent novel, Jerusalem, depicts a character with schizophrenia. A lesser-known symptom of the illness, apparently, is a tendency to treat inanimate objects like conscious (and social) beings. (We wrote about Tavares back in March.)
“Werner isn’t surprised to pass the entrance exams easily. He’s more nonplused to find his head measured with calipers and his hair whiter than any of the 60-odd shades of blond on the examiners’ charts. It goes without saying that his eyes are also rated for their shade of blue.” Janet Maslin reviews Anthony Doerr’s new novel.
Joseph L. Badaracco has been assigning works of literature to his business ethics students at Harvard in order to “help [them] develop literature skills.” The Questions of Character author believes, “literature lets you see leaders and others from the inside. You share the sense of what they’re thinking and feeling.”
We take it for granted that our language will grow and change. But one thing we think less often about is that our alphabet is subject to the same forces. Herewith, Carlos Lozada reads Michael Rosen’s new book Alphabetical, which delves into the origins and future prospects of our writing system.
“We are here to take creative risks and to do the sort of work that commercial broadcasters might be more reluctant to do. But we also have a real responsibility and a requirement to reflect a range of British communities.” Bestill our hearts, the BBC is adapting Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy as its first period drama with a non-white cast, reports The Telegraph. Our own Lydia Kiesling described Seth's epic as "a spectacularly romantic novel, weddings all over," but noted sadly that "it portends falling in love with the man you can marry, in lieu of the one that you can’t."