“It is a sad irony that the snake’s rattle, which functions as a warning device, is widely regarded as a bellicose drumroll, or war-cry, instead. It may well have been in a mood of remorse for having killed a rattlesnake on impulse that [William] Bartram, vowing solemnly that he ‘would never again be accessory to the death of a rattle snake,’ painted his marvelous portrait of a coiled rattler.” Christopher Benfey on Rattlesnake Island, a sanctuary set up to protect the woodland serpents from their greatest danger — us.
Purveyor of popular nonfiction Erik Larson has a new book out this week, In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin. The Snowman by Jo Nesbø is a new entry in the increasingly popular Scandinavian thriller genre. Inward-looking graphic novelist Chester Brown’s latest, Paying for It is out, and musician and actor Steve Earle can now add “novelist” to his resume with the release of I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive. And new in paperback are a pair of big books, Brady Udall’s The Lonely Polygamist and Karl Marlantes’s Matterhorn.
William Carlos Williams‘s birthday was this last week, and Adam Kirsch writes about the poet for New York Review of Books. Though he argues that “today it would be hard to find a reader of poetry who would not acknowledge William Carlos Williams as one of the major American modernists” Kirsch still has to face the question, “why is it, then, that almost fifty years after his death, the reputation of [Williams] still seems to be haunted by a ghost of uncertainty?”