“’This splendid lady sandbagged me,’ Bloom said in a recent phone conversation, with the lofty, ungrudging admiration of an old general recalling an opposite number’s surprise attack at some long-ago battle. Flummoxed, he asked if they had not made an agreement. Ozick, Bloom recollects, said, ‘When you are dealing with the devil, you must be prepared to do anything!'” This New York Times Magazine profile of Cynthia Ozick makes it clear that, at 88, she shows no signs of slowing down.
It was shocking to find that New York Times correspondent Anthony Shadid had died, of an asthma attack of all things, while reporting in Syria, especially when he’s put himself in harm’s way so many other times and emerged unscathed. Tyler Hicks, the Times photographer who was with Shadid when he died and who escorted his body out of Syria was, along with Shadid, among of the four journalists captured and held in Libya less than a year ago in the early days of the uprising there. Shadid’s reporting was brave and essential there and elsewhere. His death comes just weeks before the release of a memoir, House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East.
Six novelists discuss their second-favorite art forms (after writing, of course). Before you click, see if you can guess which one of these folks is most interested in opera: Kazuo Ishiguro, Lavinia Greenlaw, John Lanchester, Alan Werner, Sarah Hall and Colm Tóibín.
Last week, JK Rowling announced that, midway through writing the Harry Potter series, she nearly killed off Ron Weasley “out of spite.” Ron isn’t the first supporting character to narrowly avoid death in an author’s rough draft. The Awl illustrates some of literature’s other close calls with death.
“When, like Alice Munro, you feel your way forward, sniffing and digging and groping toward a truth virtually beyond words, it takes a long time. And the structures, organic to that process, are as miraculous and indicative and expressive of that truth—one of the deeper truths of human life—that fiction is all about.” Elizabeth Poliner explains how mapping Alice Munro’s stories made her a better writer. Never read Munro? Check out our beginner’s guide to her stories.